We are delighted to welcome you back to this in person event at our Manchester, VT store!
Williamstown novelist Schaitkin will present her provocative and hypnotic new novel set in a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear which has been called Shirley Jackson’s 'The Lottery' meets Margaret Atwood.
Provocative and hypnotic, Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is at once a spellbinding revelation and a rumination on the mysterious task of motherhood and all the ways in which a woman can lose herself to it; the self-monitoring and judgment, the doubts and unknowns, and the legacy she leaves behind.
Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-covered and damp year-round. This town, fiercely protective, brutal and unforgiving in its adherence to tradition, faces a singular affliction: some mothers vanish, disappearing into the clouds. It is the exquisite pain and intrinsic beauty of their lives; it sets them apart from people elsewhere and gives them meaning.
Vera, a young girl when her own mother went, is on the cusp of adulthood herself. As her peers begin to marry and become mothers, they speculate about who might be the first to go, each wondering about her own fate. Reveling in their gossip, they witness each other in motherhood, waiting for signs: this one devotes herself to her child too much, this one not enough—that must surely draw the affliction’s gaze. When motherhood comes for Vera, she is faced with the question: will she be able to stay and mother her beloved child, or will she disappear?
Alexis Schaitkin is the author of Saint X. Her short stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and their two children.
“There is literary precedent for such a featureless world and the buffering space [“Elsewhere”] affords, in stories like Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Those Who Walk Away From Omelas.” Without any signifiers of location and time, Schaitkin’s narrative seems to reach for a sense of universality, and intentionality: as though every element of this carefully crafted theater has been placed there for a reason. It’s not what “Elsewhere” elides but what it preserves from our world that is the most telling.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“I’ve been thinking about the migration of “bad” moms into speculative fiction, especially as the Supreme Court’s discarding of the constitutional right to abortion means that pregnant women will be increasingly surveilled and criminalized. [In] Alexis Schaitkin’s “Elsewhere” … What draws “the affliction” to some women but not others is unknown, but it may relate to the quality of their mothering—too reckless, too excessive, too meek, too feral.”
—The New Yorker
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