The Hoggard Reading Series & Speakers and Issues Series are co-sponsoring this presentation by the nationally bestselling author of The Boatrunner, Devin Murphy, who will speak on his new poignant, luminous novel that follows one family over decades and across the world: Tiny Americans. A familial coming-of-age story told through multiple perspectives that builds a cinematic sweep from the small, vividly observed moments and decisive emotional flashpoints that shape a life.
It’s Thursday, April 4, at 7:00 p.m. at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas.
It’s 1978 in Western New York, where the Rust Belt crosses into the foothills of Appalachia. Fireworks salesman and armchair philosopher Terrance Thurber is teaching his three children – Jaime, Connor, and Lewis – how to understand the world around them, sending them on wilderness missions to listen to the heartbeats of trees, identify birdsong, and chart the path of the sun. But the Thurber children intuit that the world they know is coming apart, as Terrance and their mother Catrin fall into a destructive cycle of alcoholism and anger. Jaime, the eldest, falls asleep dreaming of ways to protect her parents from themselves. Connor and Thurber bash out their rage in violent games. One day, their father gets into his car, drives West, and never returns.
Over the next 30 years, the five members of the Thurber family will grow apart, go to sea, make art, marry, divorce, have children, and find themselves scattered throughout the country and the world. Yet, even at great distances of place and time, as Devin Murphy writes in the enclosed letter to the reader, “each wears their childhoods around them like a fleece they cannot shed.” Murphy’s compassionate and affecting portrait of a family in pieces traces the experiences of connection and isolation, escape and return, exploring the ways childhood wounds reverberate across generations, and mapping a path towards forgiveness.
Tiny Americans is an entrancing second novel from a bestselling writer building a well-deserved reputation for beautiful prose, emotional insight, and the moral complexity of his fiction. This novel is the perfect next read for fans of the film Boyhood and readers of Willy Vlautin, Denis Johnson, Roddy Doyle, and Annie Proulx.
About the Author: Devin Murphy’s fiction has appeared in over sixty literary journals and anthologies, including The Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, and Confrontation. He has worked various jobs in national parks around the country and once had a three-year stint at sea that led him to over fifty countries on all seven continents. He is an Associate Professor at Bradley University and lives in Chicago with his wife and kids. Visit his website here.