We are pleased to welcome David Biespiel, who will be reading and discussing his new novel, A Self-Portrait in the Year of the High Commission on Love, published by Stephen F. Austin University Press.
Jon "Duke" Wain, a charmed 18-year-old growing up in Meyerland (Houston's historic Jewish section), is the heir apparent to his family's generations of rabbis. He finds a companion for drinking, drugs, and living wildly in Manolo Salazar, his gay best friend, who has grown up in Hispanic Gulfgate, heir to his own father's evangelical ministry. On a Saturday night in September 1981--the night Nolan Ryan pitches his record fifth no-hitter at the Astrodome--the two scions head down the Texas coastline, intent on leaving home. Binging among an assortment of dangerous revelers, Duke meets Caroline Cahill, a haunting young woman who turns out to be a runaway from West Texas, whose mother Duke discovers he may know a troubling secret. Confronted at the threshold of life and fate, Duke wonders if Caroline's story is the route to putting his birthright behind him. A Self-Portrait is about the tensions between ambition and faith, duty and desire, art and life--and about the lives lived choosing one over the other.
David Biespiel is a contributor to The New Yorker, The New Republic, and Slate. He is the author of a dozen books, most recently, A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas (about the rise and fall of his Jewish boyhood in Texas),and The Education of a Young Poet, which was selected a Best Books for Writers by Poets & Writers. Recipient of National Endowment for the Arts, Lannan, and Stegner fellowships, as well as two Oregon Book Awards, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, he has twice been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Balakian citation. Biespiel has taught at Stanford University, University of Maryland, and Wake Forest University, in addition to other colleges and universities. He is Poet-in-Residence at Oregon State University where he teaches in the graduate Creative Writing Program, and he is founder of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters.