If you are a fan of subversive or fabulist satire, you won’t want to miss a free reading by award-winning author Matthew Pitt hosted by the Monroe County Public Library Key West in the Palms Garden on Wednesday, November 14 at 6:00pm. Pitt will entertain and illuminate with readings from his two collections of short fiction, “These Are Our Demands” and “Attention Please Now,” and a brief discussion of his unique writing process.
Startling, humorous, dark, and beautiful, it is clear why “These Are Our Demands” (by Engine Press) is recognized as one of the best books published in the 12 Midwest states in 2017 by the Midwest Book Awards program. The first-place winner in the Short Story- Anthology category, Pitt’s second book “lures you in with the promise of comfort, and then pulls down the straps and sends you on an unexpected wild ride” (New Pages review).
“You know how when we see a wreck on a highway, there's a tendency to look? I sometimes think fiction writers have this in common: We're looking for the wrecks, we're imagining collisions of circumstance and situation, and how they might play out,” says Pitt, a Professor of Creative Writing in TCU’s English Department whose work has garnered him fellowships from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Bronx Council on the Arts, The New York Times, the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Taos Writers’ Conferences. “The job is to keep aware for them, and then - once they are recognized - to not flinch when trying to convey them on the page.”
With unrivaled originality, Pitt creates vivid worlds with inventive narratives that reveal unexplored pockets of reality, where the moon is colonized because of a tourist scheme gone awry and an abandoned town populated by blind bluesmen, faithfully awaiting their lovers’ return. Characters grasp at last chances, either powerless to their language or cultural barriers, or racial or age discrimination, or because they hail from parts of the country where merely getting by passes for rousing success.
“Sometimes the characters reflect people I've come across who struck me; many times, they're cut out of whole cloth,” he says. “But even in those instances, there's some hue in humanity that's catching my eye, driving me to develop into a character or situation.”
A St. Louis native, Pitt’s stories and nonfiction have garnered numerous awards, grants, and honors, most recently the 2018 Faulkner Short Story Award, and appear in dozens of publications and anthologies, including: Oxford American, Epoch, Southern Review, Cincinnati Review, Conjunctions, Smithsonian, The Saturday Evening Post, and Best New American Voices.
“The power of story connects and braids us,” says Pitt. “That's especially critical in divisive times, which we find ourselves drowning in now, but from which empathy can allow us to safely surface.”
Pitt’s books will be available for purchase and signing after the reading. Sponsored by Books & Books and Friends of the Key West Library. For more information, contact Key West Public Library at 305-292-3595.