The Twin Cities serve as geographical entry point for this exploration of how selfhood can be inescapably split over the course of a lifetime and exist in separate moments in time. Carol Muske-Dukes has won acclaim for work that marries sophisticated intelligence, emotional resonance, and technical craft. What distinguishes her poetry from her contemporaries is her awareness of the complicated web into which the personal and the political, the familial and the feminist, are woven. This awareness deeply informs her latest collection, a book that plunges into the depths of both grief and joy with subtle precision.
“[The voice] veers from intimacy to an almost invulnerable shoot-from-the-hip dazzle, and it makes TWIN CITIES urgent, high-energy, and all-the-way-alive.” –Mark Doty
Carol Muske-Dukes is the author of seven books of poetry, four novels, and two collections of essays. She is professor of English/Creative Writing at the University of Southern California and was appointed Poet Laureate of California in 2008. The recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, she lives in Los Angeles and New York City.
My American Unhappiness
From the former bookseller-author of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, a charming, disturbing, and funny story of a more-than-slightly deluded young man’s quest to find a bride. (One of the characters in the novel is in memory of former PW Rep of the Year Mark Gates, a dear friend of Dean’s.) Protagonist Zeke Pappas, the director of a humanities institute in Wisconsin, is conducting an epic survey of American unhappiness, a project he considers his life’s work. In his quest to chronicle what makes us all so unhappy, Zeke also focuses his energy on finding his own happiness — he wants to find the perfect mate so he can gain custody of his orphaned nieces. Following steps outlined in a women’s magazine, the ever-optimistic Zeke identifies some “prospects”: a newly divorced neighbor, a coffeehouse barista, his administrative assistant, and Sofia Coppola because as Zeke says, “Why not aim high?”
Kirkus writes, My American Unhappiness “shimmers with mischief and offbeat charm. A dark entertainment infused by a bluesy yearning for a better America.” Library Journal writes, “Bakopoulos writes with great heart and a cold eye, and his limpid, ironic prose will appeal to those who like the early work of Martin Amis.”
Dean Bakopoulos is the author of the award-winning debut novel Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, which was a New York Times Notable Book. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation. The founding director of the Wisconsin Book Festival and a former bookseller at Canterbury Bookstore in WI, he is now a professor in the MFA Program for Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University and a visiting profession of fiction at Grinnell. He lives in Ames, Iowa with his family.
Both books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.