This month’s readings take us first to Iraq, where a platoon leader finds himself embroiled in conflicts he hadn’t reckoned on, in Matt Gallagher‘s new novel Youngblood. Then we venture to New York and Florida into the heart of a fraught mother-daughter relationship, when Lynn Steger Strong gives us a preview of her moving debut, Hold Still (to be released in March).
Conflict comes in all shapes and sizes. Join us at KGB Bar on Thursday, February 11 at 7 PM to see our authors highlight it from many different angles.
Thursday, February 11 at KGB Bar and Red Room, 85 East 4th Street. 7-9 PM
Matt Gallagher’s second book, Youngblood, offers a fresh twist on the Iraq War novel as he expertly weaves intrigue, a mystery and two compelling love stories through his tale of a platoon commander, Lt. Jack Porter, stationed Ashuriyah, Iraq.
“Youngblood reads like several stories at once. It’s a bildungsroman about … Jack Porter, trying to live up to his older brother’s heroics and learning what it means to lead a platoon under combat conditions. It’s a detective story about Jack’s efforts to investigate dark rumors about the past conduct of a bellicose sergeant named Chambers, whom Jack worries will get his own platoon into trouble by “tweaking the rules of engagement.” And it’s a love story about a missing American soldier named Rios, who fell in love with a prominent sheikh’s daughter, Rana, whom Jack will meet and also come to care for.” –Kirkus Reviews.
Matt Gallagher is a former US Army captain and the author of the acclaimed Iraq War memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War, based on the popular and controversial blog he kept while he was deployed, and Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. He holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia and has written for the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and Boston Review, among others.
Lynn Steger Strong’s debut takes readers into the troubled heart of a tenuous mother-daughter relationship. When Maya Taylor, an intense, gifted English professor, sends her daughter to Florida to care for a friend’s child, it’s with the best of intentions. Twenty and spiraling, Ellie is lost in a fog of drugs and men- desperately in need of a fresh start. Her life with this attractive new family in Florida begins well, but Ellie is crippled by fear that she’ll only disappoint those around her … again. Finally, in the sprawling hours of one humid afternoon, she makes a mistake that she cannot take back.
In Maya and Ellie’s echoing narratives, Strong creates a searing, unforgettable portrait of familial love and the tender heartache of motherhood—from the sweltering Florida heat to the bone-cold of New York in January. Churning towards one fateful day in two separate timelines, Hold Still is a story of before and after and the impossible distance between.
“Lynn Steger Strong paints a portrait of familial love that is real, visceral, and all the more dangerous for being unconditional.” –Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine.
Lynn Steger Strong was born and raised in South Florida. She has an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University where she currently teaches freshman writing. She also teaches at Pratt Institute, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop and Catapult.