reads from her debut novel, After the Parade, a heartfelt, funny, endlessly compelling quest of a lonesome man who moves to San Francisco from a small Minnesota town trying to make his way in a profoundly complex and beautiful world.
“Lori Ostlund's wonderful novel should come with a set of instructions: Be perfectly still. Listen carefully. Peer beneath every placid surface. Be alive to the possibility of wonder."--Richard Russo
This is the story of forty-year-old Aaron Englund—a big-hearted, self-conscious, deeply sensitive man who decides it is time to leave his older partner and make a new life for himself in San Francisco. But as he steps out into a new world, Aaron finds his memories flying back to his childhood in the small town of Mortonville, Minnesota. Aaron might have left Mortonville years ago, but in San Francisco he starts to understand that real freedom won’t come until he has made peace with the traumas, mysteries, and lost opportunities bound up in that tiny Midwestern town. When Aaron was only five, his father died suddenly during the town parade. When he was seventeen, his mother vanished with the town minister. But it was the outcasts of Mortonville—a dwarf with tusks, a morbidly obese misanthrope, his Rapture-obsessed Aunt—who served as Aaron’s allies. And when, all those years later, a new friend in San Francisco offers Aaron a way to locate his lost mother, his past and present collide, forcing Aaron to rethink his place in the world.
Lori Ostlund’s collection of stories, The Bigness of the World, received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the California Book Award for First Fiction, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award. It was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, was a Lambda finalist, and was named a Notable Book by The Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, among other places. In 2009, Lori received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award. She lives in San Francisco.