Join authors Clare Beams and Mary South as they discuss their new books at the Seaport store.
The Illness Lesson was named a most anticipated book of 2020 by Time, Vanity Fair, Esquire, O Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, BookRiot, Domino, and LitHub
At their newly founded school, Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline promise a groundbreaking education for young women. But Caroline has grave misgivings. After all, her own unconventional education has left her unmarriageable and isolated, unsuited to the narrow roles afforded women in 19th century New England.
When a mysterious flock of red birds descends on the town, Caroline alone seems to find them unsettling. But it’s not long before the assembled students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: Rashes, seizures, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. One by one, they sicken. Fearing ruin for the school, Samuel overrules Caroline’s pleas to inform the girls’ parents and turns instead to a noted physician, a man whose sinister ministrations–based on a shocking historic treatment–horrify Caroline. As the men around her continue to dictate, disastrously, all terms of the girls’ experience, Caroline’s body too begins to betray her. To save herself and her young charges, she will have to defy every rule that has governed her life, her mind, her body, and her world.
Clare Beams’s extraordinary debut story collection We Show What We Have Learned earned comparisons to Shirley Jackson, Karen Russell and Aimee Bender, and established Beams as a writer who “creates magical-realist pieces that often calculate the high cost of being a woman” (The Rumpus). Precisely observed, hauntingly atmospheric, as fiercely defiant as it is triumphant, The Illness Lesson is a spellbinding piece of storytelling.
Clare Beams is the author of the story collection We Show What We Have Learned, which won the Bard Prize and was a Kirkus Best Debut of 2016, as well as a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. With her husband and two daughters, she lives in Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing, most recently at Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
In Mary South's provocative, bitingly funny debut collection, people attempt to use technology to escape their uncontrollable feelings of grief or rage or despair, only to reveal their most flawed and human selves.
An architect draws questionable inspiration from her daughter’s birth defect. A content moderator for “the world’s biggest search engine,” who spends her days culling videos of beheadings and suicides, turns from stalking her rapist online to following him in real life. At a camp for recovering internet trolls, a sensitive misfit goes missing. A wounded mother raises the second incarnation of her child.
In You Will Never Be Forgotten, Mary South explores how technology can both collapse our relationships from within and provide opportunities for genuine connection. Formally inventive, darkly absurdist, savagely critical of the increasingly fraught cultural climates we inhabit, these ten stories also find hope in fleeting interactions and moments of tenderness. They reveal our grotesque selfishness and our intense need for love and acceptance, and the psychic pain that either shuts us off or allows us to discover our deepest reaches of empathy. This incendiary debut marks the arrival of a perceptive, idiosyncratic, instantly recognizable voice in fiction—one that could only belong to Mary South.
Mary South is the author of the short story collection, You Will Never Be Forgotten, published by FSG Originals. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and the MFA program in fiction at Columbia University. For many years, she has worked as an editor at the literary journal NOON. Mary is also a former intern in The New Yorker's fiction department and a Bread Loaf work-study fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, BOMB, The Collagist, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, NOON, and Words Without Borders, and on NewYorker.com. The writer Maile Meloy awarded her story "Not Setsuko" an honorable mention in the Zoetrope: All Storyfiction contest. She lives in New York City.