(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Hudson native Elisabeth Sheffield will read from and sign copies of her new novel, “Helen Keller Really Lived” – which has nothing to do with Helen Keller – at Spotty Dog Books & Ale on Wednesday, October 1, 2014, at 7pm.
Set in eastern upstate New York, “Helen Keller Really Lived” features a fortyish former barfly and grifter who must make a living in the wake of her wealthy husband’s death, and who finds work in a clinic helping women seeking reproductive assistance. The other main character is the grifter’s dead ex-husband, a Ukrainian hooker-to-healer success story, who prior to his demise was a gynecologist and after, an amateur folklorist, or ghostlorist, who collects and provides scholarly commentary on the stories of his fellow “revenants.”
Their intertwined stories explore the mistakes, miscarriages, inadequacies, and defeats that may have led to their divorce, including his failure (according to her) to “fully live.”
As it investigates the theme of what it means to “really” live or not, “Helen Keller Really Lived” is also an exploration of virtual reality in the sense of the experience provided by literature. It is a novel awash in a multitude of voices, from the obscenity-laced, Nabokovian soliloquys of the dead Ukrainian doctor, to the trade school/mid-century romance novel constrained style of his dead mother-in-law.
Elisabeth Sheffield is the author of “Gone” and “Fort Da: A Report”. She is also the author of a critical monograph on James Joyce (Fairleigh Dickinson Press, 1998), and various works of short fiction, which have appeared or are forthcoming in literary journals including Pretext, 13th Moon, The Denver Quarterly and Gargoyle.
Sheffield has lived and taught on both coasts of the US, as well as in between, in Northern Cyprus, Northern Ireland, where she recently held a Fulbright at the Seamus Heaney Centre, at Queen’s University Belfast (Spring 2014), and in Germany, where she was a Fulbright lecturer in 1999-2000. In 2012, she received a National Endowment of the Arts Award for her fiction. Currently, she is an associate professor of English at the University Colorado in Boulder and the Director of Subito Press (www.subitopress.org). She lives in the Denver/Boulder area with the writer Jeffrey DeShell, her two young sons, Leo and Francis, and Venus, a whippet.