The public is invited to a virtual conversation on Tuesday, March 23, at 7 p.m., when novelist Richard Russo and debut author Gregory Brown discuss Brown’s just-released novel, The Lowering Days. The free event is being co-hosted by Left Bank Books, in Belfast, and The Bangor Daily News.
The Lowering Days is set in a fictional town on the Penobscot River in Midcoast Maine. The town’s paper mill that provided paychecks while it polluted the water, is shuttered. Just as Japanese investors show interest in reopening the mill, a teenage girl from the Penobscot National Tribe sets fire to the plant. Some townspeople see her defiant action as an act of environmental justice; many others call it criminal mischief. Her act sets loose a series of long simmering grievances, ending in a cycle of violence that tears the community—and two families—apart.
The narrator of Brown’s novel is a doctor who, in looking back at his teens in the 1990s, sees the fire as the catalyst that brought social and environmental change to his community while, at the same time, changed the trajectory of his life. In his telling of the story, he conjures a rich understory of water, air, forests—reflecting on how they are seen and used, and what they mean in the deepest reaches of a culture’s memory.
In a recent interview with The Bangor Daily News Brown, who grew up in Belfast in the 1980s and 1990s, said his story is “a mixture of all the various pockets of the Midcoast and along the Penobscot River that I absorbed. The fiction that often interests me the most is that kind that lets the mythology and folklore of a place shine out from behind the recognizable, real-life details.”
Brown holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and a master’s in fine arts from the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in Tin House, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Epoch, and Narrative Magazine. He has received scholarships and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He lives in Cumberland County with his family.
To order copies of The Lowering Days ($26.99), call Left Bank Books at 207-338-9009 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register for the free event: Gregory Brown and Richard Russo in Conversation