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Ginger Strand, photo by Orianna Riley
Ginger Strand

TO DISCUSS HER NEW BIOGRAPHY, THE BROTHERS VONNEGUT: BERNARD VONNEGUT AND KURT VONNEGUT IN THE HOUSE OF MAGIC

NYS Writers Institute, Thursday, November 19, 2015
2:00 p.m. Seminar, "A Writer in the Archive" | M.E. Grenander Special Collections Research Room, Science Library 350

7:30 p.m. Keynote Lecture, "The Brothers Vonnegut: Bernard Vonnegut and Kurt Vonnegut in GE's House of Magic" | Clark Auditorium, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany

EVENT LISTING:
The Brothers VonnegutGinger Strand will talk about her new nonfiction book The Brothers Vonnegut (2015), a biography of major American author Kurt Vonnegut and his brother Bernard Vonnegut, a research scientist at General Electric in Schenectady and long-time professor of Atmospheric Science at the University at Albany. Strand will present a talk about the book as the keynote lecture of the Researching New York Conference, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, 2015 in the Clark Auditorium of the NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day she will present a seminar, “A Writer in the Archive,” at 2:00 p.m. in the M. E. Grenander Special Collections Research Room, Science Library 350 on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Both events are free and open to the public. Strand’s appearance is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute; the University at Albany’s Department of History and M.E. Grenander Archives and Special Collections; and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. Her book is a selection of the Times Union Book Club.

PROFILE
Ginger Strand
will discuss her new book The Brothers Vonnegut: Bernard Vonnegut and Kurt Vonnegut in the House of Magic (2015). The story is set in General Electric’s Schenectady research facility, where Bernard worked as a scientist and Kurt in public relations. It is a wild collision of science and literature set against the backdrop of atomic anxiety, would-be weather warriors, and the dawn of the digital world. She will also discuss her use of manuscripts, letters, GE dossiers, and interviews to trace the fascinating story of two brothers grappling with the moral dilemmas of their time. Part biography, part cultural history, her book chronicles how a desire to control the natural world shaped one of our most inventive novelists.

In a Booklist starred review, Mark Levine called the book, “Fascinating . . . a superb, provocative, and crystal-clear narrative nonfiction.” Writing in The New Republic, Evan Kindley said, “An exercise in biographical literary criticism, [The Brothers Vonnegut] is convincing and enjoyable, and fans and scholars of Vonnegut will be glad to have the specifics of this formative era filled in.” Kirkus Reviews said, “Strand’s thoughtful history, drawn from abundant archival sources, recounts the brothers’
repeated frustrations and disillusion as they confronted, in their own ways, the unsettling ethical questions of their time. An engaging yet disquieting portrait of postwar America through the eyes of a pair of brothers who accomplished great things in different fields.”

Strand is also the author of Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate (2012). Dwight Garner of the New York Times said, “part true-crime entertainment, part academic exegesis, part political folk ballad… Strand’s cross-threaded tales of drifters, stranded motorists, and madmen got its hooks into me. Reading [this] thoughtful book is like driving a Nash Rambler after midnight on a highway to hell.” Her earlier books include the nonfiction work, Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies (2008), and Flight: A Novel (2005).

Free and open to the public, Strand’s talk is the keynote lecture of the annual Researching New York Conference and is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute; the University at Albany’s Department of History and M.E. Grenander Archives and Special Collections; and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. Further information on the entire Researching New York Conference, is available at: www.nystatehistory.org.

At the afternoon seminar, “A Writer in the Archive,” Strand will discuss archival research and her extensive use of Bernard Vonnegut’s collected papers and other archival materials contained in the M. E. Grenander Archives and Special Collections of the University at Albany Library.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.