Schedule of Events

2017 Schedule of Events


Friday, April 28 — Opening Night Ceremony

Friday night beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Old South Church, Newburyport.

Opening Night Ceremony: Jeff Kinney

The endlessly creative Jeff Kinney will entertain our Festival audience by sharing some of the inspiration behind his Wimpy Kid insights and humor, possibly even providing glimpses of future adventures in store for Greg Heffley and his merry gang of middle schoolers. In addition to a conversation with the moderator, Kinney will show a video from his recent world tour and take questions from the audience.

  • This event is free but will be seated on a first come basis.
  • Doors will open at 5:00 PM.
  • Jeff’s books will be available for sale after the show but you are welcome to bring one of your own favorites for signing.
    • Jeff has graciously agreed to sign one book or take one photograph per person.
  • Please note children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Presenter: Jeff Kinney
Moderator: Lucia Greene


Friday 7:30 PM
Masonic Lodge
31 Green Street

Join us for Dinner with the Authors!

  • Tickets $50.00 at the door or purchase here!
  • Buffet and cash bar.


Saturday, April 29

Poetry
Saturday 8:30 AM
Central Congregational Church Social Hall
Breakfast with the Poets

Join a few of the poets who live in and around Newburyport for an informal breakfast and conversation. This year’s reading will feature David Davis, Nancy Bailey Miller, Alfred Nicol and Anton Yakovlev, along with special guest, David Berman.

Presenters: David Berman, Alfred Nicol, Nancy Bailey Miller and Anton Yakovlev
Moderator: David Davis


Nonfiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Central Congregational Church Church Sanctuary
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

Still known to millions primarily as the author of the “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson (1916–1965) has been curiously absent from the mainstream American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense and psychological horror, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America more deeply than anyone. Now, biographer Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author of such classics as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Join Franklin in conversation with author Steve Yarbrough to discuss her definitive biography of an American literary giant.

Presenter: Ruth Franklin
Moderator: Steve Yarbrough


Nonfiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

Wendy Williams

The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

Horses have a story to tell, one of resilience, sociability, and intelligence, and of partnership with human beings. In The Horse, the journalist and equestrienne Wendy Williams brings that story brilliantly to life. Williams chronicles the 56-million-year journey of horses as she visits with experts around the world, exploring what our biological affinities and differences can tell us about the bond between horses and humans, and what our longtime companion might think and feel. Indeed, recent scientific breakthroughs regarding the social and cognitive capacities of the horse and its ability to adapt to changing ecosystems indicate that this animal is a major evolutionary triumph. The Horse is a revealing account of the animal that has been at our side through the ages, befriending us and traveling with us over the mountains and across the plains. Enriched by Williams’ own experience with horses, The Horse is a masterful work of narrative nonfiction that pays tribute to this treasure of the natural world.

Presenter: Wendy Williams


Nonfiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Old South Church

Andrew Zimbalist

Jim Braude

No Boston Olympics: How and Why Smart Cities are Passing on the Torch

In 2013 and 2014, some of Massachusetts’ wealthiest and most powerful individuals hatched an audacious plan to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston. Boston’s Olympic boosters promised political leaders, taxpayers, and the media that the Games would deliver incalculable benefits and require little financial support from the public. Yet these advocates refused to share the details of their bid and only grudgingly admitted, when pressed, that their plan called for billions of dollars in construction of unneeded venues. No Boston Olympics is the story of how an ad hoc, underfunded group of diverse and engaged citizens joined together to challenge and ultimately derail Boston’s boosters, the USOC, and the IOC. Andrew Zimbalist is a world expert on the economics of sports, and the leading researcher on the hidden costs of hosting mega-events such as the Olympics and the World Cup. No Boston Olympics is a blueprint for citizens who seek to challenge costly, wasteful, disruptive, and risky Olympic bids in their own cities.

Presenter: Andrew Zimbalist
Moderator: Jim Braude


Fiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Old South Church – Social Hall

Margot Livesey

Mercury by Margot Livesey

A magnificent horse sets off a chain of deceit and crime. The New York Times bestselling author Margot Livesey delivers her most gripping novel yet—at once a tense psychological drama and a taut emotional thriller—about love, obsession, and the deceits that pull a family apart. A “brilliant paced contemporary adventure” (Elle).

Presenter: Margot Livesey


Fiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Unitarian Universalist Church
Where the Bodies are Buried: The Power of Place in Crime Fiction

When it comes to fiction, setting plays a powerful role in shaping plot, tone, and characters. The three authors on this panel use Boston, Salem, and rural Maine as backdrops for their crime novels. Why did they choose these settings? How do each of these places impact the story? Join acclaimed crime writers Gerry Boyle, Ray Daniel, and Brunonia Barry in conversation with author Dyke Hendrickson about the value of setting.

Presenters: Brunonia Barry, Gerry Boyle, Ray Daniel 
Moderator: Dyke Hendrickson


Fiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Newburyport Art Association

Dawn Tripp

Georgia by Dawn Tripp

Georgia O’Keeffe, her love affair with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and her quest to become an independent artist come to life in this sensuous and wonderfully written novel, a dazzling departure into historical fiction by the acclaimed novelist Dawn Tripp.

Presenter: Dawn Tripp


Fiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

Michael White

Michael C. White presents Resting Places

After receiving the devastating news of her son’s death, Elizabeth ekes out a lonely and strained relationship with her husband, Zach. While he takes comfort in support groups, Elizabeth becomes withdrawn and seeks solace from the only thing that helps her forget: alcohol. A chance meeting with a man on the side of the road spurs her to travel cross-country to the site of her son’s death in the hope of understanding what had happened.

Presenter: Michael C. White


Children/Ages 3-7
Saturday 9:30 AM
Program Room, Newburyport Public Library

Toni Buzzeo

Elephants Always Remember Join award-winning author Toni Buzzeo as she reads aloud from her picture book, My Bibi Always Remembers, then helps kids make their own “Save the Elephants” posters. All supplies will be provided. Toni’s book tells the story of Little Tembo, a baby elephant. Little Tembo is thirsty, but her herd can’t find any water. Bibi, the matriarch, “remembers the way to wet,” and leads them across the parched savannah. Tembo happily follows, every now and then getting distracted by her own memories of games she loves to play.

Presenter: Toni Buzzeo


Poetry
Saturday 10:00 AM
Central Congregational Church Social Hall
Deft with a Dagger

You’ll die laughing!

Presenters: A.M. Juster and Alexandra Oliver


Fiction
Saturday 10:00 AM
Newburyport Art Association

Monica Wood

The One-in-a-Million Boy

“A novel about a friendship between a 104-year-old woman and a lonely boy obsessed with world records sounds as if it could be somewhat sentimental, but this story remains razor sharp while packing a heart wrenchingly powerful emotional punch. It has big themes – family, bereavement and facing up to mortality – but they are addressed with a light touch, and a beautifully judged acidic wit. As Ona decides to exploit her great age to secure herself a place in the history books with the help of her young assistant, a tragedy means unlikely bonds are forged. Beautifully written, cleverly constructed, at times hilariously funny and ultimately deeply affecting – this should be a smash.” Sunday Mirror, UK.

Presenter: Monica Wood


Nonfiction
Saturday 10:00 AM
City Hall

ericjdolin-s

Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse

In a work rich in maritime lore and brimming with original historical detail, Eric Jay Dolin, the best-selling author of Leviathan, presents the most comprehensive history of American lighthouses ever written, telling the story of America through the prism of its beloved coastal sentinels. Set against the backdrop of an expanding nation, Brilliant Beacons traces the evolution of America’s lighthouse system, highlighting the political, military, and technological battles fought to illuminate the nation’s hardscrabble coastlines. Called “terrific” by Entertainment Weekly, “a splendid history” by the St. Louis Dispatch, and “a full-bodied and fabulous history of one of America’s most scenic and formative icons,” by Rinker Buck, New York Times bestselling author of The Oregon Trail, Brilliant Beacons is sure to delight not only the lighthouse aficionado, but anyone who loves American history.

Presenter: Eric Jay Dolin


Nonfiction
Saturday 10:00 AM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

Carole Firstman

Origins of the Universe and What it All Means

In her debut memoir, Carole Firstman traces her strained relationship with her eccentric and distant father, a gifted biology professor whose research on scorpions may have contributed to the evolutionary theories of Stephen Jay Gould. Through unexpected forms–from footnotes and diagrams to startling love letters and Saturday morning cartoons–Firstman struggles to reconnect with her estranged father and redefine herself as both a grown woman and a daughter.

Presenter: Carole Firstman


Fiction
Saturday 10:30 AM
Central Congregational Church Sanctuary

Richard Russo

Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo takes us back to North Bath in this sequel to Nobody’s Fool. Now, ten years later, Doug Raymer has become the chief of police and is tormented by the improbable death of his wife—not to mention his suspicion that he was a failure of a husband. Meanwhile, the irrepressible Sully has come into a small fortune, but is suddenly faced with a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he only has a year or two left to live. Hear festival favorite, Richard Russo, read from this delightful sequel.

Presenter: Richard Russo


Nonfiction
Saturday 10:30 AM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress: 1776 to ISIS

Waging War shows us our country’s revered and colorful presidents at their most trying times—Washington, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Johnson, both Bushes, and Obama. Their wars have made heroes of some and victims of others, but most have proved adept at getting their way over reluctant or hostile Congresses. A timely account of a raging debate: The history of the ongoing struggle between the presidents and Congress over who has the power to declare and wage war.

Presenter: Judge David J. Barron


Nonfiction
Saturday 10:30 AM
Old South Church

Inspired Journeys: Travel Writers in Search of the Muse

Nowadays, the Internet allows us to “travel” wherever we want, without ever leaving home. But true travelers actually “travel”—and those who do, are pilgrims. In the new anthology, Inspired Journeys: Travel Writers in Search of the Muse, authors describe not only where they went, but the path they took to their destinations. How does each author define “pilgrimage”? What are they seeking? What do they actually find? Join contributors to the anthology for this enlightening discussion.

Presenters: Charles Coe, Susan Fox Rogers
Moderator: Suzanne Strempek Shea


Nonfiction
Saturday 10:30 AM
Old South Church – Social Hall
Books For Living

Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. Schwalbe, the author of the New York Times best-selling The End of Your Life Book Club, invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions. In each chapter, he discusses a particular book—what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world. Throughout, Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honor those we’ve loved and lost, and also figure out how to live each day more fully. Rich with stories and recommendations, Books for Living is a treasure for everyone who loves books and loves to hear the answer to the question: “What are you reading?”

Presenter: Will Schwalbe
Moderator: Christina Koliander


Fiction
Saturday 10:30 AM
Unitarian Universalist Church
The Best American Short Stories

How are short stories and guest editors chosen for The Best American Short Stories series? What are some current trends in American short fiction? How is writing a novel different than writing a short story? What makes a short story the “best”? Join three authors whose stories have appeared in the annual volume, as well as Heidi Pitlor, the series editor, for a lively conversation about the longest-running and best-selling series of short fiction in the country.

Presenters: Jennifer Haigh, Joan Wickersham, Steve Yarbrough 
Moderator: Heidi Pitlor


Poetry
Saturday 11:00 AM
Central Congregational Church Social Hall
The Play of Thought: Deborah Warren and Dan Brown

Wit has meant different things at different times. My favorite definition is from the 17th century: “Natural Wit consisteth in two things: Celerity in Imagining (that is, swift succession of one thought to another), and steddy direction to some approved end.” Here are two of our wittiest contemporaries.

Presenters: Deborah Warren and Dan Brown


Nonfiction
Saturday 11:00 AM
Newburyport Art Association

Megan Marshall

Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast

Since her death in 1979, Elizabeth Bishop, who published only one hundred poems in her lifetime, has become one of America’s most revered poets. And yet—painfully shy and living out of public view in far-flung locations like Key West and Brazil—she has never been seen so fully as a woman and artist. Megan Marshall makes incisive and moving use of a newly discovered cache of Bishop’s letters—to her psychiatrist and to three of her lovers—to reveal a much darker childhood than has been known, a secret affair, and the last chapter of her passionate romance with Brazilian modernist designer Lota de Macedo Soares.

Presenter: Megan Marshall


Nonfiction
Saturday 11:00 AM
City Hall

Our Boy: Newburyport’s First WWI Casualty Finds His Way Home

Bethany Groff Dorau first encountered Marine Corps Private Eben Bradbury in 2014, when a strange coincidence brought them together. They were neighbors, he had a wonderful shy smile, and they had a similar sense of humor. She learned his nickname, met his family, read his mail, and discovered that they were distant cousins. The catch to this love story? Eben has been dead for a century, killed on June 12, 1918, in the blood-soaked wheat fields of Belleau Wood in France. Follow the journey of Eben “Bunny” Bradbury from his doorstep on Bromfield Street to the battlefields of France, and how the love and support of his hometown, a century later, helped to bring the story of “our boy” to life.

Presenter: Bethany Groff Dorau


Fiction
Saturday 11:00 AM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

Michelle Hoover

Bottomland by Michelle Hoover

At once intimate and sweeping, Bottomland—the anticipated second novel from Michelle Hoover—follows the Hess family in the years after World War I as they attempt to rid themselves of the anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. But when the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their life on the unforgiving Iowa plains.

Presenter: Michelle Hoover


Children/Ages 2-5
Saturday 11:00 AM
Children’s Room, Newburyport Public Library

Theo Heras

Hat On, Hat Off

Join author Theo Heras for a morning of songs, rhymes, and paper hat crafting! Theo leads kids through her delightful picture book, Hat On, Hat Off, which depicts the everyday challenge of getting a toddler ready to go out. Then, she helps kids create and decorate their own hats. All supplies will be provided.

Presenter: Theo Heras


Children/Ages 8-12
Saturday 11:00 AM
Program Room, Newburyport Public Library

Rob Buyea

Saving Mr. Terupt

Join Rob Buyea, author of the beloved Mr. Terupt series, as he talks about how he creates his characters, where he gets his ideas, his writing process, and more. In book three, Saving Mr. Terupt, the kids from Mr. Terupt’s fifth- and sixth-grade classes are entering their first year of junior high school. There’s a lot to be excited about, but there are new challenges, too. Everyone is missing Mr. Terupt. When a fight threatens to break up the group forever, they think their favorite teacher is the only one who can help them. But the kids soon find out that it’s Mr. Terupt who needs saving.

Presenter: Rob Buyea


Poetry
Saturday 1:00 PM
Central Congregational Church Social Hall
Imagination Without Pretense: Kevin Carey and Midge Goldberg

William Wordsworth would have loved these two poets, who write about “incidents and situations from common life” in “language really used by men [and women].” That’s what makes them both favorites of Garrison Keillor as well.

Presenters: Kevin Carey and Midge Goldberg


Nonfiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Central Congregational Church Sanctuary

Ellen Fitzpatrick

The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency

In The Highest Glass Ceiling, best-selling historian Ellen Fitzpatrick tells the story of three remarkable women who set their sights on the American presidency. Victoria Woodhull (1872), Margaret Chase Smith (1964), and Shirley Chisholm (1972) each challenged persistent barriers confronted by female presidential candidates. Their quest illuminates today’s political landscape, showing that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign belongs to a much longer, arduous, and dramatic journey.

Presenter: Ellen Fitzpatrick


Nonfiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

Richard Zacks

Chasing the Last Laugh: How Mark Twain Escaped Debt and Disgrace with a Round-the-World Comedy Tour

In the 1890s, Mark Twain came back from the dead. The famous author’s career was collapsing, his masterpieces were at risk of falling into oblivion, and he was even mistakenly reported dead. But Twain orchestrated an amazing late-in-life comeback from bankruptcy, bad reviews, and family disaster by setting out on an unprecedented international comedy tour to restore his fortunes. Richard Zacks’ Chasing the Last Laugh captures some of Twain’s cleverest and funniest moments—many newly discovered in unpublished notebooks and letters—as he rode elephants in India, sorted diamonds in South Africa, and talked his way out of hell ninety minutes at a time. This untold chapter in the author’s life began with ridiculously bad choices and ended in hard-won triumph. “An intimate and fascinating account of what was basically the world’s weirdest book tour, starring the funniest writer America has ever produced.” —Carl Hiaasen

Presenter: Richard Zacks


Fiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Old South Church

Andre Dubus III

New Fiction from Andre Dubus III

Join Andre Dubus III as he shares his latest fiction writing with the Festival audience. Always entertaining, Andre tends to fill the church so give yourself a few extra minutes to find a seat at this one!

Presenter: Andre Dubus III


Nonfiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Old South Church – Social Hall

Kate Clifford Larson

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors’ letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age 23, and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret.

Presenter: Kate Clifford Larson


Fiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church
Mommy Dearest: Why Bad Moms Make for a Good Read

Join four fiction writers who bring bad mothers to life on the page. They’ll talk about writing, publishing, the importance of putting “bad” mothers in fiction, and their own struggles to balance creativity and parenthood.

Presenters: Myfanwy Collins, Nadine Darling, Carla Panciera, Holly Robinson


Fiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Newburyport Art Association

Heidi Pitlor

The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

After a magical honeymoon, Hannah and Lovell settled in the suburbs to raise their two children. But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She has become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes. For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife–and to their life together–readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable. With haunting intensity, a seamless balance of wit and heartbreak, and the emotional acuity that author Heidi Pitlor brings to every page, The Daylight Marriage mines the dark and delicate nature of a marriage.

Presenter: Heidi Pitlor


Nonfiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
City Hall

Dyke Hendrickson

Nautical Newburyport: A History of Captains, Clipper Ships and the Coast Guard

Newburyport was a prosperous community in the 18th and 19th centuries, building ships along the Merrimack, sending its fishermen up and down the Atlantic, and trading all over the world. Nautical Newburyport: A History of Captains, Clipper Ships and the Coast Guard, brings together in one volume many of the elements that made it a great seaport – with perhaps the worst harbor entrance on the North Atlantic. Author Dyke Hendrickson will talk about the colorful characters that drove the local economy and the globe-circling ships that made Newburyport a major force during the Age of Sail.

Presenter: Dyke Hendrickson


Fiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

Abby Fabiaschi

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

Madeline Starling was a seemingly devoted wife and mother until her death is deemed a suicide. While her husband fails to balance his high-profile career with the role of single parenthood thrust upon him, and their teenage daughter grapples to carry on despite the guilt and anger inherent in grieving a parent’s intentional death, Madeline struggles to make things right for the family she left behind. The result is an achingly beautiful portrait of a father and daughter trying to redefine their understanding of family and a striking depiction of the transcendent power of unconditional love.

Presenter: Abby Fabiaschi


Children/8-12 and up
Saturday 1:00 PM
Program Room, Newburyport Public Library

Melissa Sweet

Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White

In her illustrated biography of beloved author E. B. White, Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell the story of this American literary icon. Readers young and old will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life.

Presenter: Melissa Sweet


Poetry
Saturday 2:00 PM
Central Congregational Church Social Hall
Licensed by the Muse: James Matthew Wilson and Rhina P. Espaillat

In a time when many poets declare themselves “liberated” not only from meter and rhyme but even from punctuation and the rules of grammar, these two poets have devoted themselves to the study and practice of English verse technique, tapping into a creative wellspring over 700 years old. Theirs is truly “roots” music!

Presenters: James Matthew Wilson and Rhina P. Espaillat


Nonfiction
Saturday 2:00 PM
City Hall

Erica Dunbar

Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

George and Martha Washington skirted Philadelphia’s anti-slavery laws during their 6-year residency there during his term as President, cycling slaves in and out of Mount Vernon every six months in order to avoid the city’s time limit on slaveholding. But they met their match in one enslaved young woman who, upon learning she was to be gifted to a granddaughter as a wedding present, stole herself away to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Although the first couple pursued her until the end of their lives, Ona Judge remained at large until her death in nearby Greenland in 1848, outliving both her owners by almost half a century. A meticulous researcher and renowned scholar, author Erica Armstrong Dunbar is the Blue and Gold Professor of Black American Studies and History at the University of Delaware.

Presenter: Erica Armstrong Dunbar


Nonfiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Congregational Church Sanctuary

Tom Nealon

Food Fights and Culture Wars: A Secret History of Taste

In this eclectic book of food history, Tom Nealon takes on such overlooked themes as carp and the Crusades, brown sauce and Byron, and chillies and cannibalism, and suggests that hunger and taste are the twin forces that secretly defined the course of civilization. Through war and plague, revolution and migration, people have always had to eat. What and how they ate provoked culinary upheaval around the world as ingredients were traded and fought over, and populations desperately walked the line between satiety and starvation. Parallel to the history books, a second, more obscure history was also being recorded in the cookbooks of the time, which charted the evolution of meals and the transmission of ingredients around the world. Food Fights and Culture Wars: A Secret History of Taste explores the mysteries at the intersection of food and society, and attempts to make sense of the curious area between fact and fiction.

Presenter: Tom Nealon


Nonfiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

Stuart Isacoff

When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and its Aftermath

In April of 1958, at the height of the Cold War, with Americans fearful of a Soviet attack from one of its newly launched Sputnik satellites in space, a tall, lanky Texan named Van Cliburn showed up at the first ever Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow and captured first prize. The world was stunned. The press christened him the “American Sputnik,” and he became the first and only classical musician in history honored with a ticker tape parade down Broadway in New York City. His recording with Soviet conductor Kirill Kondrashin became the first classical album to sell a million copies. And with it a new era of cultural exchange between the nations took root. On the surface, it seemed that musical beauty had, for a time, changed the world. But behind the scenes, complex forces were at work – in the larger political realm and in the personal, tragic lives of many of the participants. This book reveals behind the scenes aspects of the story, including the daily dramas at the event that remained unreported, the Kremlin’s struggle over whether to give the prize to an American, Cliburn’s psychological meltdown soon after the victory, the imprisonment and torture of the Chinese competitor, Liu Shikun, and the secret involvement of the New York Times in staging the famous parade. This lecture will include historical video clips to help bring the moment back to life, including rare footage from Nikita Khrushchev’s home movies of Cliburn’s visits.

Presenter: Stuart Isacoff


Fiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Old South Church
The Importance of Books in the Age of Digital Overload

According to the New York Times, during his eight years in a particularly raucous political climate, former President Obama considered books “a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration” giving him “a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.” This panel of renowned authors—Richard Russo, Ruth Franklin, and Andre Dubus III—will consider the importance of books in our contemporary lives and how they serve to nourish and complicate our ideals, our sense of community, and self while expanding and challenging our understanding of others and the world.

Presenters: Andre Dubus III, Ruth Franklin, Richard Russo
Moderator: Michelle Hoover


Fiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Old South Church Social Hall
On My Own: Self-Reliance, Strength, and Secrets in Young Adult Literature

No book is complete without a protagonist. Protagonists drive the story forward, capture readers’ attention, and remain a memorable friend (or enemy) long after the book is closed. Young adult protagonists are often strong, take-charge characters. But strength doesn’t have to mean physical endurance or skills with weaponry. It can also live in a pregnant teen, a closeted artist, or a cowgirl in disguise. In this discussion, we’ll explore the multifaceted dimensions of strength in young adult characters, the reasons why readers are drawn to independent protagonists, and how writers craft secrets that can be turned from weaknesses into strengths. Join young adult authors Erin Bowman, Tiffany D. Jackson, and Laurent Linn in conversation with Bookish.com’s executive editor, Kelly Gallucci.

Presenters: Erin Bowman, Laurent Linn, Tiffany D. Jackson
Moderator: Kelly Gallucci


Fiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church
Collaborative Historical Fiction: It’s All About Teamwork

Acclaimed historical fiction novelists Heather Webb and Sophie Perinot talk about a new trend in historical fiction—collaborative novels and anthologies. What can readers expect when they pick up a book authored not by one person but by six? Moderated by Anne Easter Smith, panelists will discuss the opportunities and attractions such work holds for historical fiction fans, as well as its attraction for writing professionals while sharing some of the behind-the-scenes process involved in plotting, writing, editing and marketing as part of a larger authorial team.

Presenters: Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb
Moderator: Anne Easter Smith


Fiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Newburyport Art Association

Jessica Shattuck

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

New York Times Notable Author (The Hazards of Good Breeding) and PEN finalist Jessica Shattuck delivers a sweeping, morally probing, and emotionally gripping story of three German women drawn together in an ancient fortress to survive the devastating wake of World War II, in The Women in the Castle. Partly inspired by the experience of her own German grandparents, Shattuck offers readers a fresh perspective, one rarely examined in the voluminous literature of the Second World War: how ordinary Germans experienced the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, and how, in the aftermath, they reconciled both their acts of resistance and complicity.

Presenter: Jessica Shattuck


Fiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

Jennifer Haigh

Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh

Jennifer Haigh returns to the Pennsylvania town at the center of her iconic novel, Baker Towers, in this ambitious, achingly human story of modern America and the conflicting forces at its heart. Forty years ago, Bakerton coal fueled the country. Then the mines closed, and the town wore away like a bar of soap. Now Bakerton has been granted a surprise third act: It sits squarely atop the Marcellus Shale, a massive deposit of natural gas. Heat & Light depicts a community blessed and cursed by its natural resources. Soaring, ambitious, it zooms from drill rig to shareholders’ meeting to the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor to the ruined landscape of the “strippins,” haunting reminders of Pennsylvania’s past energy booms. This is a dispatch from a forgotten America—a work of searing moral clarity from one of the finest writers of her generation, a courageous and necessary book. The Washington Post calls Heat & Light “the best fracking novel ever.”

Presenter: Jennifer Haigh


Fiction
Saturday 2:30 pm
Program Room, Newburyport Public Library

Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry returns to the world of The Lace Reader with this spellbinding new thriller, The Fifth Petal, a complex brew of suspense, seduction and murder, set in contemporary Salem, with ties that hearken back to the Witch Trials of 1692. Includes readings from the book, slides of the Salem locations, and Q&A.

Presenter: Brunonia Barry


Poetry
Saturday 3:00 PM
Central Congregational Church Social Hall
Master Craftsmen: Robert Mezey and Robert Shaw

Robert Mezey has been accused of “an unyielding poetic integrity.” Robert Shaw would plead guilty of the same offense. That may explain why these two excellent poets have stayed out of the spotlight despite lifetimes of high literary achievement. Like skilled burglars, their focus is not on getting attention but on getting the job done.

Presenters: Robert Mezey and Robert Shaw


Nonfiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
City Hall

William Quigley

Pure Heart – The Faith of a Father and Son in the War for a More Perfect Union

Having stumbled on a forgotten trove of Civil War letters from a young Union infantry officer to his father, Bill Quigley eventually realized he held the key to a treasured American story, nearly lost, that needs now, as much as ever, to be recalled and retold. It’s a story of redemptive value for our own time, now again, of angry division, of zealous partisanship, of hateful rhetoric and resurgent bigotry, of fear, and of real peril, moral and existential, to the American project to form a more perfect union. Because they represented to fractious Americans of another time not just bravery but purity of heart, Captain William White Dorr and his father, the Reverend Benjamin Dorr, were memorialized in an historic Philadelphia church whose congregation of white elites had splintered apart during the Civil War — Southerners versus Northerners and, in the divisiveness of the wartime Union, Copperhead Democrats versus War Democrats versus Republicans. Dorr’s church was a microcosm of white America in civil war, and Pure Heart — a ground-level micro-history — aims to do exactly what Harper’s Weekly proposed amidst that righteous fratricide: to “come to the single cases to get at the heart of the matter.” Well might Americans recall now those Americans in the hallowed “Nation’s Church” (Philadelphia’s Christ Church, Episcopal) who came to see, in the woeful wake of their warring, something of the better angels of our nature in the hearts of one Union soldier and his father.

Presenter: Bill Quigley


Nonfiction
Saturday 4:00 PM
Newburyport Art Association

Marianne Leone

Ma Speaks Up: And a First-Generation Daughter Talks Back

The acclaimed actress and author of Jesse: A Mother’s Story tells the story of her outspoken, frequently outrageous Italian immigrant mother. Ma Speaks Up is a record of growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, with the wrong family, in the wrong religion. Though Marianne’s girlhood is flooded with shame, it’s equally packed with adventure, love, great cooking, and, above all, humor. The extremely premature birth of Marianne’s beloved son, Jesse, bonds mother and daughter in ways she couldn’t have imagined. The stories she tells will speak to anyone who has struggled with outsider status in any form and, of course, to mothers and their blemished, cherished girls.

Presenter: Marianne Leone


Fiction
Saturday 4:00 PM
Program Room, Newburyport Public Library

Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

It’s 1969, and sixteen-year-old Lucy is about to run away to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default caretaker for most of their lives, Charlotte’s youth has been marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into a nightmare. Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, and explores what happens when you’re responsible for things you cannot fix. Caroline Leavitt is at her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.

Presenter: Caroline Leavitt


Saturday 7:00 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts
Closing Ceremony — Writing “Up” With E.B. White

E.B. White famously said, “Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.” Join us for this discussion about a man who wrote for adults and children. Melissa Sweet, author of the illustrated biography, Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White, and Martha White, who has edited several books about her grandfather and his work, from New Yorker essays to the beloved children’s books Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, will be in conversation with journalist Leslie Hendrickson. White’s writing reflects a world keenly observed with humor, honesty, and hope. There will also be readings of essays and passages from the novels.

Presenters: Melissa Sweet, Martha White
Moderator: Leslie Hendrickson


Newburyport Literary Festival, A Project of the Newburyport Literary Association
PO Box 268 Newburyport, MA 01950
(978) 465-1257