BELFAST — On Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., the public is invited to a virtual conversation with Kerri Arsenault, author of the best-selling book “Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains,” and Kate Christensen, author of seven novels. The free Zoom event, which is celebrating the newly released paperback edition of “Mill Town,” is being co-hosted by Left Bank Books and The Bangor Daily News. To register for the free event, visit

Arsenault grew up in the rural, working-class town of Mexico, Maine. For more than 100 years, the community orbited around a paper mill that employed most Mexico residents, including three generations of Arsenault’s family. Years after she moved away, Arsenault realized the price she paid for her seeming secure childhood. The mill, while providing livelihoods for nearly everyone, also contributed to the destruction of the environment and the decline of the town’s economic, physical, and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname “Cancer Valley.”

“Mill Town” is a personal investigation where Arsenault sifts through historical archives and scientific reports, talks to family and neighbors, and examines her childhood to illuminate the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxins and disease. Tender, angry, full of respect and bewilderment, “Mill Town” is complex love letter to a hometown. It is also a moral wake-up call that asks, whose lives are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?

Joining Arsenault in conversation will be Kate Christensen. Her novel “The Great Man” won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction; her most recent novel is “The Last Cruise.” She has also published two food-centric memoirs, “Blue Plate Special” and “How to Cook a Moose,” which won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Christensen has taught fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as well as short workshops in both memoir and fiction at various residencies and MFA programs. Her shorter pieces have been in places like Tin House, Down East, Portland Magazine, Vogue, Elle, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Food and Wine.

“Mill Town” has won numerous literary awards including the Rachel Carson Environmental Book Award and the Maine Literary Award for nonfiction. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Prize, the New England Society Book Award, and the New England Independent Booksellers Association nonfiction prize. Arsenault’s work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Down East, the Paris Review, the New York Review of Books, and the Washington Post, among others. The Maine Humanities Council, in partnership with the Maine State Library, selected “Mill Town” as their nonfiction for Maine’s 2021 adult summer reading program, “Read ME.”

Arsenault is a book critic, book editor at Orion magazine and contributing editor at The Literary Hub. This past summer, she taught a writers’ workshop through the University of Oregon’s Center for Environmental Futures, which was aimed at academics in the environmental humanities and allied fields who wanted to learn to write in a more literary narrative style to engage a wider public audience.

For more information, call 207-338-9009 or email