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Wednesday, October 19

Writers in the Loft: Ann Beattie

Writers in the Loft welcomes Ann Beattie, Monday, November 7, at 7pm.

“A National Treasure” –  NY Times Book Review

With her remarkable new work, Mrs. Nixon:  A Novelist Imagines a Life Recently excerpted in The New Yorker magazine  
Tickets on sale now.
Ticket Packages includes book, bar beverage,
and author meet-and-greet/signing

“[Beattie] punctures her characters’ pretensions and jadedness with an economy
and effortless dialogue that writers have been trying to emulate for … decades.”
– New York Times Book Review

The Music Hall announces a new event in the Writers in the Loft series. On Monday, November 7, award-winning writer and celebrated New Yorker magazine contributor Ann Beattie will join the series with her new work, Mrs. Nixon:  A Novelist Imagines a Life. Her appearance with Writers in the Loft will take place at the Music Hall Loft at 131 Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth.

Ann Beattie is one of America’s most celebrated writers, heralded “a National Treasure” by the New York Times Book Review. Now, she brings us a riveting exploration of former First Lady Pat Nixon. Beattie’s writing has always reflected her interest in minor or marginalized characters. With Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines A Life, she creates a startlingly original portrait of this elusive icon – one of America’s most famous marginalized characters.

When Pat Nixon was first lady, Beattie dismissed her as “interchangeable with a Martian,” but decades later, she wonders what it must have been like to be married to such a spectacularly ambitious and catastrophically self-destructive man. “Not only I, as a young woman, but my mother before me, had escaped being Mrs. Nixon: domestic and modest; picture perfect; always smiling (such a wistful smile, though). A lot of people liked her, but something seemed wrong because she was married to him.”
Beattie drew on a wealth of sources, from books by Woodward and Bernstein, Jonathan Schell, Mary McCarthy and H.R. Haldeman to articles found in old Life Magazines, vanity press books, and photos of the Nixons. She reconstructs dozens of scenes in an attempt to see the world from Mrs. Nixon’s point of view, and uses other writers’ work to show how character is constructed. From Chekhov’s The Lady with The Little Dog to Carver’s Cathedral to Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, Beattie gives a masterclass on the principles for creating character, conjuring a scene and developing the interior logic that makes fiction work. The result is an unprecedented and deeply personal glimpse into a writer’s imagination and an utterly original work.
Mrs. Nixon is both a riveting exploration of one of the most mysterious public figures in American history and an intriguing and revelatory look at how a writer creates and imagines a life.

Said Margaret Talcott, Associate Producer of Writers in the Loft series, “I can think of no better writer to profile the mysterious Pat Nixon.  Like Ann Beattie herself, Mrs. Nixon spoke to a generation of women, but in a very different and haunting way. ‘Beattie on Nixon’ is not to be missed. Also, the night is a unique opportunity to hear from a celebrated writer about her process for writing and creating character.

About the author

Ann Beattie’s work has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She and her husband, the artist Lincoln Perry, live in Maine, Florida, and Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

About Writers in the Loft, ticket purchases

Writers in the Loft is akin to The Music Hall’s anchor author series, Writers on a New England Stage, featuring well-known authors but in a smaller, more intimate space.  It is produced byThe Music Hall and supported by series Sponsor Citizens Bank. The series brings audiences the best of fiction and nonfiction from today’s top writers. 

Ticket packages for Writers in the Loft:  Ann Beattie are $40 ($37 members). Each package includes a reserved seat, book (Mrs. Nixon, $26.00 hardcover), and bar beverage; author presentation/reading, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet. Packages can be purchased  through The Music Hall Box Office, located at 28 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth, over the phone at 603-436-2400 or online at http://www.themusichall.org.   If available, ticket packages can also be purchased on the night of the event at The Music Hall Loft Box Office at 131 Congress Street, beginning at 6:00pm for the 7pm event.  The author will autograph her book for package-purchasers on the night at a book signing reception following her reading and discussion.  

Praise for Mrs. Nixon

“After The New Yorker Stories showcased her masterful, award-winning fiction, this finger-on-society’s-pulse storyteller presents a uniquely intimate and illuminating hybrid of biography, literary analysis, memoir, and fiction. The book’s subject is as surprising as its form….Beattie, scintillating and intrepid, performs electrifying close readings of Chekhov, Carver, and Tennessee Williams; and shares her deep delight in and gratitude for the “odd life” of a writer. Hilarious if trenchant, Beattie has created a resplendent paean to the pleasures of the literary imagination, and a riveting and mischievous, revealing and revitalizing portrait of an overlooked woman of historic resonance. This book’s fascinating subject and fresh approach will ignite exceptionally lively attention.”
“You know you are in the presence of great writing when you cannot think of anything at all like it anywhere else in your experience as a reader. This is a beautifully constructed meditation/magic show, by the woman who knows us more deeply than we know ourselves. At once comic, antic, biting, sardonic, and moving, Mrs. Nixon is a brilliant vision of the nature of our own myths, and about our need to make them. Chief among its fascinations, for me, is that its writer is deeding her famous and enigmatic character the dignity of separateness while at the same time profoundly understanding her—and her strange husband. And her time. And our time. And us. Of course. All of us.
Only Ann Beattie, with her amazing insight and eye, her wit and subtle wisdom, could have written it.”
–Richard Bausch, author of Peace
“This is Ann Beattie’s most daring work to date, wholly unexpected and original.  At its center is Pat Nixon, Everywoman—projected on the giant screen of American history with luminous personal detail.  Mrs. Nixon is brilliant, unforgettable.”
—Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and The Passages of H.M.
“The penetrating and sometimes caustic Beattie, who defined a generation with her O. Henry– and PEN/Malamud Award–winning works, reimagines someone we’ve hardly thought about at all: Pat Nixon, wife of the hugely ambitious and hugely fallible President. Here’s a book that examines the imagination of the writer as much as the subject itself.”
–Library Journal

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