KGB: Behind the Book - Iris Smyles, Jessica Winter, and Anna Noyes

September 08, 2016
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Jessica Winter is features editor at Slate and the author of the ferociously intelligent debut novel, Break in Case of Emergency, a wry satire of celebrity do-goodism as well as an exploration of the difficulty of navigating friendships as they shift to accommodate marriage and family, and the unspoken tensions that can strain even the strongest bonds. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Bookforum, The Believer, and many other publications.  She is the former culture editor of Time, where she directed print coverage of music, television, books, film, and art and architecture.  She lives in Brooklyn.

“It’s the superb insights and penetrating writing that make this book remarkable . . . . Winter is almost vicious in her dedication to truth . . . she lampoons the bourgeois Manhattanites who spend entire careers appropriating social justice movements for branding purposes and nothing else.  There are a lot of them out there, and Winter captures their self-regarding bullshit with remarkable precision . . . . Break in Case of Emergency asks the reader to consider whether a person’s problems can be serious and complex and important even though they are everybody else’s problems too . . . . It’s a high-quality tribute to ordinary experience, which makes it an extraordinary debut.”
— The Guardian

Anna Noyes is the author of the extraordinary debut book of interconnected stories, Goodnight, Beautiful Women, which was A New York Times Editors’ Choice, A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Summer Selection, An Indie Next Pick, and An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Literature & Fiction).  With novelistic breadth and a quicksilver emotional intelligence, Noyes takes readers into the inner lives of New England women and girls as they navigate the dangers and struggles of their outer worlds.  Her fiction has appeared in VICE, A Public Space, and Guernica, amongst others.  A recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has received the Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowship and the James Merrill House Fellowship, and has served as writer-in-residence at the Polli Talu Arts Center in Estonia.  Goodnight, Beautiful Women, received the 2013 Henfield Prize for Fiction.

“Lucid, sensual . . . If the fiction of Stephen King and Alice Munro had a literary love child, it might look like this: luminous domestic moments married to a pervasive sense of threat . . . Noyes is a master of disturbing juxtapositions that interpolate childhood games with sexuality, suggesting something dangerous in both . . . appealingly frank and astute . . . Noyes’s prose is admirably restrained, and the real drama remains that of character, the mystery we are to ourselves.”
—E.J. Levy, The Washington Post

Iris Smyles is the author of two brilliantly funny books of fiction: Iris Has Free Time and the recently published, Dating Tips for the Unemployed.  In twenty-four absurd, lyrical, and louche episodes, Dating Tips for the Unemployed weaves a modern odyssey of trying to find one’s home in the world amid the pitfalls and insidious traps of adult life.  She was a humor columnist for Splice Today, and her stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, BOMB, The New York Times, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Best American Travel Writing 2015, among other publications and anthologies.  Founder and editor of the web-museum, Smyles & Fish, she edited and wrote the afterword for the cult book, The Capricious Critic, based on a column she commissioned for that site.  She lives in New York and Greece.

“Structured in small episodes like Homer’s Odyssey, which serves as an epigraph for the book, Smyles’ adventuress calls to mind a Jane Bowles heroine who’s read Ulysses while scrolling in despair through 10 open apps on her iPhone.  Smyles’ portrayal of Iris in all her weirdness offers much to recognize, fear, and embrace.  Walking the line between self-obsession and thoughtful portraiture, Smyles explores an inextricable link between sex and loneliness, self-loathing and self-acceptance in contemporary New York.”
—Kirkus Reviews