Time: 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Join Professor Heidi Hutner (English) in conversation with Kerri Arsenault, author of the notable and deeply probing environmental memoir, Mill Town (Macmillan, 2020)
“Kerri Arsenault’s Mill Town is the book of a lifetime; a deep-drilling, quick-moving, heartbreaking story of one working-class family in one working town, which is also the much bigger American story of how harm settles on and in some of those who love the country most. Scathing and tender, it is written in a clear-running prose that lifts often into poetry, but comes down hard when it must. Through it all runs the river of Mill Town: sluggish, ancient, dangerous, freighted with America’s sins. This is a book about residues and legacies.” Rob Macfarlane, author of Underland.
One of O Magazine’s Best Books of Fall 2020
Newsweek’s “Must-Read Fall Nonfiction”
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 books for Politics & Current Events
Nominations: John Leonard Prize
Kerri Arsenault grew up in the rural working class town of Mexico, Maine. For over 100 years the community orbited around a paper mill that employs most townspeople, including three generations of Arsenault’s own family. Years after she moved away, Arsenault realized the price she paid for her seemingly secure childhood. The mill, while providing livelihoods for nearly everyone, also contributed to the destruction of the environment and the decline of the town’s economic, physical, and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname “Cancer Valley.”
Mill Town is a personal investigation, where Arsenault sifts through historical archives and scientific reports, talks to family and neighbors, and examines her own childhood to illuminate the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxins and disease. Mill Town is a moral wake-up call that asks, Whose lives are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?
Kerri Arsenault is a book critic, book editor at Orion magazine, a contributing editor at Literary Hub, essayist/author. Mill Town is her first book.
This event is co-sponsored by the Stony Brook University Humanities Institute and the Department of English.
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