Award-winning author and educator Michael Parker discusses his latest novel, I Am the Light of This World, in conversation with acclaimed historical biographer John Taliaferro, on Thursday, Aug. 31 at Elk River Books.
Set in the early 1970s, in Stovall, Texas, I Am the Light of This World tells the story of 17-year-old Earl, “a loner, dreamer, lover of music and words” who is sentenced to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
“Forty years later, Earl is released into a world he can barely navigate. Settling in a small town on the Oregon coast, he attempts to establish a sense of freedom from both bars and razor wire and the emotional toll of incarceration. But just as Earl finds the rhythm he’s always sought, his past returns to endanger the new life he’s built.
“Steeped in the music and atmosphere of the 1970s, I Am the Light of This World is a gritty, gripping, and gorgeously written story of loss, redemption, and the power of the imagination.”
The Aspen Daily News reports, “Michael Parker is one of literature’s best buried treasures, and I Am the Light of This World is as good as it gets.”
The author of seven novels and three collections of stories, Parker has been awarded four career-achievement awards: the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, the North Carolina Award for Literature, the R. Hunt Parker Award, and the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Prize. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Oxford American, Runner’s World, Men’s Journal, and others. He is a three-time winner of the O. Henry Prize for his short fiction and his work has appeared in dozens of magazines and several anthologies. He taught for 27 years in the MFA writing program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and since 2009 has been on the faculty of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.
Taliaferro is the author of Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West (winner of the National Outdoor Book Award), All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay from Lincoln to Roosevelt (winner of the Douglas Dillon Award), and several other books. He is a former senior editor at Newsweek and a long-time friend of Elk River Books.
Elk River Books is located at 122 S. 2nd St. in downtown Livingston. The free event begins at 7 p.m., and a book signing and reception will follow.