Lenox, MA—This fall, Touchstones: Conversations at The Mount returns with a new line-up of celebrated writers discussing modern cultural issues or “cultural flashpoints.” Touchstones kicks off on Thursday, September 17 at 7:30 with Darryl Pinckney, editor of the upcoming Library of America volume, James Baldwin: Later Novels and continues for four consecutive Thursdays through October 8. Tickets for each event are $15 in advance and $18 at the door and include a book-signing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit EdithWharton.org or call 413-551-5100.
Touchstones, in its second year, is hosted by journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick. Bolick wanted this year’s line-up to highlight writers who are expanding contemporary conversation around cultural flashpoints — race, gender, class, and family — in unexpected ways, from novels and personal essays to literary criticism and international reporting.
2015 Touchstones: Conversation at The Mount:
In Conversation with Darryl Pinckney, editor of James Baldwin: Later Novels
Thursday, September 17 7:30 pm/$15 Advance; $18 Door
Darryl and Kate will discuss contemporary race relations and the enduring influence of James Baldwin.
In Conversation with Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion
Meghan and Kate will discuss the necessity of authentic personal writing in a world that prefers sentiment over truth.
In Conversation with Jenny Nordberg, author of The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan
Jenny and Kate will discuss gender identity, living with secrets, and the long history of girls passing as boys.
In Conversation with Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls
Richard and Kate will discuss class, rural life, and Russo’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, Empire Falls.
“These writers are so dynamic and thoughtful on the page that I have no doubt they’ll be great conversationalists in real life. I greatly admire how each addresses his/her area of inquiry with nuance, depth, and originality, rising above the temptations of polemic. That’s not easy to do, and they all do it beautifully.” says Bolick. “Last year we focused on the memoir form, and so conversations were necessarily very personal. This year will still be personal, of course, but also more expansive. I expect to walk away with a better understanding of a host of issues that affect us all.”
“Edith Wharton was a master at social and cultural observation. Everything she wrote contained a commentary on contemporary life.” says Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount. “Touchstones and the writers who participate are reviving her spirit here at the home she loved.”
About the Participants:
Kate Bolick (host) is the author of the New York Times bestseller Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, a contributing editor for The Atlantic, and a freelance writer for The New York Times, Slate, and Vogue, among other publications. Previously, she was executive editor of Domino and a columnist for The Boston Globe. She has appeared on NBC’s Today show, CNN, MSNBC, and numerous NPR programs across the country. A recipient of a MacDowell fellowship, she holds a master’s in cultural criticism from New York University, where she also taught writing.
Darryl Pinckney is a longtime contributor to The New York Review of Books, and the author of the novel High Cotton. Pinckney also authored Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature, part of the Alain Locke Lecture Series, as well as Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy.
Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion. She is also the editor of Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids. Since 2005, Meghan has been an opinion columnist at the Los Angeles Times, covering cultural and political topics. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and is currently an adjunct associate professor in the M.F.A. Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
Jenny Nordberg is a New York-based foreign correspondent and a columnist for the Swedish national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Together with The Times‘ investigative unit, Nordberg previously worked on projects such as an examination of the American freight railroad system, a series that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, and U.S. efforts at exporting democracy to Haiti. Nordberg has won awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors, The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Föreningen Grävande Journalister.
Richard Russo is the author of six previous novels and The Whore’s Child, a collection of stories. In 2002, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls. He lives with his wife in Camden, Maine, and Boston.
About The Mount:
The Mount is a National Historic Landmark and cultural center that celebrates the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton. We engage a diverse audience by providing context to Wharton’s life and achievements through our educational and public programs and the conservation and preservation of her historic estate and gardens.
Each year, The Mount is host to over 40,000 visitors. Daily tours of the property are offered May through October, with special events throughout the year. Annual summer programming includes a joint exhibit with SculptureNow, Wharton on Wednesdays, Music After Hours, and the celebrated Monday Lecture Series. Exhibitions explore themes from Wharton’s life and work.
In recent years, The Mount has become the literary hub of the Berkshires, regularly hosting esteemed writers—including novelists, poets, biographers, scholars, and journalists—for readings and discussions. Writers who have appeared recently at The Mount include David McCullough, Matthew Pearl, Mark Strand, Sharon Olds, Andre Dubus, and Susan Orlean.
For more information, visit EdithWharton.org.