Join Jim Shepard and Karen Shepard in conversation, discussing their recent works, The Tunnel at the End of the Light and Kiss Me Someone.
Jim Shepard's The Tunnel at the End of the Light argues that some of our most persistent and destructive cultural assumptions come from the movies. In these ten essays Jim Shepard weaves close readings of film with cultural criticism to explore the ways in which movies work so ubiquitously to reflect how Americans think and act. Whether assessing the “high-spirited glee of American ruthlessness” captured in GoodFellas, or finding in Lawrence of Arabia a “portrait of the lunatic serenity of our leaders’ conviction in the face of all evidence and their own lack of knowledge,” he explores how we enter into conversations with specific genres and films―Chinatown, The Third Man, and Badlands among others―in order to construct and refine our most cherished illusions about ourselves.
Bold and unapologetic, Karen Shepard’s Kiss Me Someone is inhabited by women who walk the line between various states: adolescence and adulthood, stability and uncertainty, selfishness and compassion. They navigate the obstacles that come with mixed-race identity and instabilities in social class, and they use their liminal positions to leverage power. They employ rage and tenderness and logic and sex, but for all of their rationality they're drawn to self-destructive behavior. Shepard’s stories explore what we do to lessen our burdens of sadness and isolation; her characters, fiercely true to themselves, are caught between their desire to move beyond their isolation and a fear that it’s exactly where they belong.
Jim Shepard is the author of seven novels, including most recently The Book of Aron, five story collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway―a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize―and editor of the anthology Writers at the Movies. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his wife, Karen Shepard, their three children, and three beagles. He teaches at Williams College.
Karen Shepard is a Chinese-American born and raised in New York City. She is the author of four novels, An Empire of Women, The Bad Boy’s Wife, Don’t I Know You?, and The Celestials. Her short fiction has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, and Ploughshares, among others. Her nonfiction has appeared in More, Self, USA Today, and the Boston Globe, among others. She teaches writing and literature at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, where she lives with her husband, novelist Jim Shepard, and their three children.