Bestselling author talks, signs at Left Bank

Aug 10, 2019
Photo by: Christine Burrill Suzannah Lessard

BELFAST — The public is invited to a free talk and book signing on Friday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m., at Left Bank Books, 109 Church St., by bestselling author Suzannah Lessard. Her latest book, "The Absent Hand: Reimagining Our American Landscape," has been called “an engrossing work of literary nonfiction.” Lessard, who is the great-granddaughter of renowned architect Stanford White, is also the author of "The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stanford White Family," a New York Times Notable Book of The Year in 1996.

In "The Absent Hand," Lessard, who is a self-described “collector of places,” writes a sophisticated series of essays that are a blend of historical travelogue, reportorial probing, philosophical meditation, and prose poem as she describes and reimagines our landscapes. She guides us through places that have meant something to her personally — the Hudson River Valley, a neighborhood in Brooklyn — as well as those with larger resonance, such as preserved Civil War battlefields, whitewashed Southern plantations, the King of Prussia shopping mall, and the Columbia University campus.

Lessard takes a “deep dive” into our surroundings — cities, countryside and sprawl — and explores change in the meaning of place and reimagining the world in a time of transition. Whether it’s climate change, which is altering the meaning of nature, or digital communications that are changing the nature of work, the effects of global enclosure on the meaning of place are inescapable. No one will finish this book without having their ideas of living and settling in their surroundings profoundly enriched.

In a rave review by Booklist, "Absent Hand" is called a “genre-burning work of criticism – part history, part travel diary, part personal narrative – [that] explores the contradictions of the American landscape. [This is] a stellar work of landscape criticism, a rapturous meditation on the revelatory power of place.”

Lessard was a founding editor of The Washington Monthly and a staff writer at The New Yorker for 20 years (1975 – 1995); she currently teaches creative writing at The New School in New York City. She is a recipient of the Whiting and Lukas Awards and has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and George Washington University.

Reservations for the free talk and signing are strongly encouraged; please email leftbank@myfairpoint.net or call 338-9009. If you can’t make the signing, the bookshop is happy to take your order and have your book(s) signed for later pick up or shipment.

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