Master of fine arts alum and author to give reading

Carter Sickels, author and Penn State master of fine arts alumnus, will read at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium. The reading is free and open to the public.

Carter Sickels is the author of the novel "The Evening Hour" (Bloomsbury USA), a Finalist for the 2013 Oregon Book Award, the Lambda Literary Debut Fiction Award and the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Debut Fiction Award. The novel is set in Dove Creek, W.Va., where most of the wealth is in the mountains — in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life but little prosperity. Born here and raised by his Pentecostal grandfather, 27-year-old Cole Freeman sidestepped work as a miner to become an aide in a nursing home. He’s got a shock of bleached blond hair and a gentle touch well suited to the job. He’s also a drug dealer, reselling the prescription pills of the older population to a younger crowd.

Kirkus Review calls "The Evening Hour" “a plainspoken novel, but one with intensely lyrical moments, about the devastation of the West Virginia landscape — and the devastation to the local communities — owing to mountaintop removal ... . Sickels has great insight into the emotional life of West Virginians, and he refreshingly presents them as fully realized characters rather than as clichés or stereotypes.” 

Of his first novel, Sickels said, “I like country spaces and rural spaces, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in cities. I was interested in exploring that and it is something I think about (in) my own life. I’m drawn to the country often … but at the same time, especially as a queer person, it’s very difficult to imagine living in spaces like that unless it’s a really progressive place.”

Carter, who lives in Portland, Ore., is the recipient of a 2013 artistic grant from Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council and winner of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. He has won fellowships to the Hambidge Center, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He is currently Visiting Faculty for West Virginia Wesleyan's Low Res MFA Program.

The reading is sponsored by Penn State’s Department of English. Additional sponsorship for this event is provided by the Mary E. Rolling Endowment, the Joseph L. Grucci Poetry Endowment, the Institute for Arts and Humanities, the Paterno Fellows Program, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the University Libraries and the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State.

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Last Updated March 07, 2014