A Reading with Sharon Harrigan and Amanda Eyre Ward
Sharon Harrigan's Playing with Dynamite is about the family secrets that can distance us from each other and the honesty that can bring us closer. It's about a daughter who goes looking for her father but finds her mother instead. It's about memory and truth, grieving and growing, and what it means to go home again.
Sharon Harrigan's father was larger than life, a brilliant but troubled man who blew off his hand with dynamite before she was born and died in a mysterious and bizarre accident when she was seven. The story of his death never made sense. How did he really die? And why was she so sure that asking would be dangerous? A series of events compel her to find the answers, collecting other people's memories and uncovering her own. Her two-year odyssey takes her from Virginia to Detroit to Paris and finally to the wilds of northern Michigan where her father died. There, she discovers the real danger and has to confront her fear.
Sharon Harrigan's work has appeared in the New York Times (Modern Love), Virginia Quarterly Review, and Narrative. She received the Joyce Horton Johnson Award from Key West Literary Seminar and the Kinder Award from Pleiades, as well as fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Hambidge. A graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University (BA) and Pacific University (MFA), she teaches memoir writing at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she lives with her husband and children.
Amanda Eyre Ward's new novel The Nearness of You explores the deeper meanings of motherhood—from the first blissful hello to the heart-wrenching prospect of saying goodbye. Brilliant heart surgeon Suzette Kendall is stunned when Hyland, her husband of fifteen years, admits his yearning for a child. From the beginning they’d decided that having children was not an option, as Suzette feared passing along the genes that landed her mother in a mental institution. But Hyland proposes a different idea: a baby via surrogate.
Suzette agrees, and what follows is a whirlwind of candidate selection, hospital visits, and Suzette’s doubts over whether she’s made the right decision. A young woman named Dorothy Muscarello is chosen as the one who will help make this family complete. For Dorrie, surrogacy (and the money that comes with it) are her opportunity to leave behind a troubled past and create a future for herself—one full of possibility. But this situation also forces all three of them—Dorrie, Suzette, and Hyland—to face a devastating uncertainty that will reverberate in the years to come.
Amanda Eyre Ward is the critically acclaimed author of six novels, including the bestseller How To Be Lost and, most recently, The Nearness of You. She lives in Austin.