Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Celebrating Zora Neale Hurston May 23rd

At the American Writer's Museum 180 N. Michigan Avenue 2nd Floor 6:30-8:30 pm
A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.
In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.
In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.
Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.
Amistad Books editorial director Tracy Sherrod will discuss the process of publishing Hurston's manuscript with Hurston biographer Laura Litwin.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 26th 6:30-9:30pm in the after-words event space

Issue launch for issue 2 of a five-part anthology zine.  

AVERSION is a queerly surreal work of freeform horror storytelling by Chicago-based author Aaron Eischeid. Each issue features a unique multimedia build and original illustrations by local artists that bring to life the harrowing tale of Owen, a teenager hurled head and soul-first into a mad doctor’s practice of dangerous and degrading therapy.

“Dummy,” the inaugural chapter released in 2016, is where you first meet Owen in a mysterious waiting room. Here lies a door to madness, inquisition, and coercive Freudian psychology gone gut-churningly awry. 

Now, in the all-new sequel chapter, “Canine,” the scope of Owen’s ‘therapeutic’ journey widens. Beginning in 1800s Russia, a mutt experiences the breakthrough of Ivan Pavlov’s classic experiments. There, he meets a strange force who has come to steal and warp those experiences for modern purposes. It is here our protagonist must endure the aversive conditioning of his identity under the nefarious tactics of Your Doctor. Meanwhile, joined by an all-new motley crew of characters, Owen discovers larger spiritual forces at work that could promise salvation…or destroy everything.

Come experience an unforgettable launch event that will include a live, theatrical reading complete with chilling effects followed by a discussion with the author, signing, and free wine and snacks!

Parts 1 & 2 are available for sale for only $5 each.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April 19th 6pm Michael Barsa at after-words


A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time.  Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn't care. For the first time in his life, he's free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up. Or so he thinks.

Milo settles into a quiet routine—constructing model Greek warships and at last building a relationship with his sister Klara, who's home after a failed marriage and brief career as an English teacher. Then Klara hires a gardener to breathe new life into their overgrown estate. There's something odd about him—something eerily reminiscent of their father's most violent villain. Or is Milo imagining things? He’s not sure. That all changes the day the gardener discovers something startling in the woods.  Suddenly Milo is fighting for his life, forced to confront the power of fictional identity as he uncovers the shocking truth about his own dysfunctional family—and the supposed accident that claimed his parents’ lives.

 Michael Barsa grew up in a German-speaking household in New Jersey and spoke no English until he went to school. So began an epic struggle to master the American “R” and a lifelong fascination with language. He’s lived on three continents and spent many summers in southern Germany and southern Vermont.

He’s worked as an award-winning grant writer, an English teacher, and an environmental lawyer. He now teaches environmental and natural resources law. His scholarly articles have appeared in several major law reviews, and his writing on environmental policy has appeared in The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. His short fiction has appeared in Sequoia.

The Garden of Blue Roses is his first novel.

Food and Drink supplied.