The key, of course, is to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and that's the great achievement of the two novelists who will visit the All But True series for a virtual event on July 1 at 6:30 p.m.
On the outside, the aged Ms. Hazel Hicks could be taken for a stereotype—what in her day would have been called a spinster. Yet, as David Huddle reveals in his novel Hazel, she’s the most remarkable person in her small Vermont town. With fictional techniques as varied as Hazel’s personality quirks, the book explores her long life from multiple angles. "Hazel’s would seem to be the life story of one who has no life," says novelist Castle Freeman, Jr. "Nevertheless, owing to her creator’s utterly assured, sympathetic, multifaceted storytelling, she is never a tragic figure, or even a pitiable one. Rather, she appears with the contradictions, self-inflicted wounds (and blessings) the reader recognizes as belonging to life."
In The Nature of Remains, Ginger Eager portrays multiple characters in a hardscrabble Georgia town. This book was selected for the AWP Award Series in the Novel, and it's easy to understand why. Eager takes us below the small-town surface to see class struggles, gender discrimination, domestic violence—all the "typical" problems of contemporary American life. Yet the characters emerge with an individuality that makes us root for them even when they’re clearly in the wrong. Novelist Paula McLain compares this book to "the wrenching simplicity of Kent Haruf and the dark southern lyricism of Daniel Woodrell."