Porter Square Books is delighted to welcome Rebecca Kaiser Gibson, author of “The Promise of a Normal Life,” in conversation with Robert Pinsky!
For readers of Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth Strout, and Katie Kitamura, the indelible journey of a quiet young woman—the “silent person” in the Seder—finding her way.
Hailed as “radiant and transporting” (Margot Livesey), The Promise of a Normal Life is a poet’s debut novel, so evocative of life as lived that it transports you to a time and place you can practically see, touch, and feel. The unnamed narrator is a fiercely observant, introverted Jewish-American girl who seems to exist in a private and separate realm. She’s the child of a first-generation doctor and lawyer—whose own stories have the loud grandeur of family legend—in an America where Jews are excluded from the country club across the street. Her expectations for adulthood are often contradictory. In the changing landscape of the 1960s, she attempts to find her way through the rituals of life, her geography expanding across the country, across the ocean, and into multiple nations.
Along the way, she meets a glamorous hairdresser on a cruise ship to Israel, loopy tarot-card-reading passengers, and Alice-in-Wonderland lawyers in Haifa. There’s a blue-eyed all-American college boyfriend, a mystified tourist agent in the Lofoten Islands, a handsome eligible rabbi in LA, a righteous and self-absorbed MIT professor, and a clandestine, calculating lover in Boston. Eventually, she finds her own compass, but only after being swept to several distant shores by many winds.
Rebecca Kaiser Gibson is the author of the poetry collections “Girl as Birch and Opinel.” Her work has appeared in Slate, Agni, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Northwest Review, the Massachusetts Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Harvard Review, Green Mountain Review, Pleiades, and many other magazines. She taught creative writing at Tufts University for twenty-three years and has received writing fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She lives in Marlborough, NH.
Robert Pinsky is the author of numerous books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist “The Figured Wheel,” and prose, including “The Sounds of Poetry.” He served as United States Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000, during which time he founded the Favorite Poem Project. He has edited several anthologies, most recently “The Book of Poetry for Hard Times.” Pinsky teaches at Boston University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.+ More... - Less...
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