Elizabeth Strout: The Burgess Boys

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout, appearing at the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, set her latest book, The Burgess Boys, in New York and Maine. The family drama is about two adult brothers who live in New York and their sister, who lives in Maine. The woman’s teenage son is accused of throwing a bloody pig head into a local mosque, and the brothers, both of whom are in the legal profession, come home to help with his defense.

Strout has been touted as crafting a vivid portrayal of life in a small town in Maine, both the good and the bad. Not everyone has been exactly appreciative of her efforts. “I went to this book club up in Maine, some church book club had me visit,” Strout tells us. “And they asked me, ‘Do you even like Maine? We’re not like this.’ I felt like saying, ‘[This character] is your sister. Don’t blame me.’ Oh, well, they weren’t my audience,” Strout laughs.

“I don’t want to offend people, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean that places aren’t grim, and where [this character] lives, it’s grim. If you’re freezing cold all the time and you really can’t afford to heat your house, it affects you. Just to go outside means that you have to shovel off the car and de-ice everything. Your energy is going to become more focused on just trying to survive. That’s very real. Economic differences are something that we don’t talk about a lot in this country. We don’t really talk about the differences in your reality when you don’t have enough money to heat your house, as opposed to going to dinner parties in New York where there are Picassos on the wall.”

Strout’s reading is followed by an onstage interview with Houston novelist Katherine Center and a book sale and signing.

7:30 p.m. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-521-2026 or visit inprinthouston.org. $5.
Mon., Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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Olivia Flores Alvarez