Saturday, January 17, 2004

Lauren Kessler

Lauren Kessler’s newest book, Dancing With Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimers, is an intimate, first-hand account of what it means to live with Alzheimers. For five months Kessler immersed herself in an alien landscape just a few miles from her home. She took a minimum-wage job as caregiver in an Alzheimers facility to better understand and write about the disease that claimed her mother's life.

“I am a writer of what is called literary nonfiction," says Kessler. “I tell true stories, factual stories based on extensive research, but I tell them as much as I can, as much as the material will allow me, the way a novelist would -- with scenes and characters and dialog, with an eye for the telling detail and an attention to the larger narrative.”

A special honor has been bestowed on Lauren Kessler -- her book, “Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of A Japanese American Family,” was chosen the one book people all over the state will read for Oregon's first state-wide "Oregon Reads" in 2009, part of the state's 150th birthday celebration. All 130 of Oregon's public libraries will receive copies of this book.

Kessler is the author of nine other excellent narrative nonfiction books including: “Clever Girl: Elizabeth Bentley: The Spy Who Ushered In The McCarthy Era”; Los Angeles Times best-seller and Oregon Book Award finalist “The Happy Bottom Riding Club,” a biography of the pioneering aviatrix, Hollywood stunt pilot and bordello Madame, Pancho Barnes; “Full Court Press,” a season-in-the-life narrative about women's sports; and “After All These Years,” portraits of 1960s radicals.

Kessler’s journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, O magazine, salon and The Nation. She is the founder and editor of Etude, an online magazine devoted to new and emerging voices in literary nonfiction.

Photo by Carla Perry

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