An examination of human nature at our truest, and the inhuman lengths some take for success, some take for peace, and others, ultimately, take for justice.
BENEFACTION Book 1
by Katie Lattari
Sourcebooks, Spring 2021
Coral Dunn struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies. She inflicts self-harm to crack the tension within, but she also draws, paints, and writes what she’s feeling for release only as violent as her imagination. When she befriends a fellow artist at the Lupine Valley Arts Collective in northern Maine, she thinks she may have found true respite from her pain. But he has a use for her of his own, and it’s far too late, once he’s mined her deepest vulnerabilities, to escape his plan. Decades later, Audra Colfax is the star Painting MFA student at the Boston Institute for the Visual Arts. A gifted artist like Coral, she too is from the wilds of Maine. There, at her remote family home, she’s put the final touches on her thesis project, “Benefaction.” It’s a vivid collage of Coral’s works found scattered around the property and her own, enmeshed to tell a story of a dark past that ties the two women inextricably. It’s ready for her advisor, the esteemed Max Durant, to come up and review. He won’t know Audra obsessively engineered every last detail of his visit. Or that it had to be him from the start, advising her, so she could get to him by doing what he does best. She’d use what she’s inherited to lure him back to Maine. He has no idea she knows his worst secret, and that it’s the sole reason why he’s been invited.
What comes to light, chapter by spellbinding chapter, is that one grand, grotesque act of selfishness committed by Max as a young man, followed by years of manipulating women for art, has set into motion the machinery of his own fatal undoing. The man should pay for his crimes, and no one is more deserving of revenge than the women to whom he owes his career. Audra is well aware he’s a monster, but she doesn’t know everything that simmers beneath his surface. Spun in alternative points of view across an electric, twisty few days, BENEFACTION is a rallying call of feminist fury; a WHISPER NETWORK or BIG LITTLE LIES for artists; a GONE GIRL tale of atonement underscored by notes of MY DARK VANESSA, set in the woods during hunting season.
Katie Lattari holds a BA and an MA in English from the University of Maine and an MFA in Fiction Writing/Prose from the University of Notre Dame. In 2016 her debut novel AMERICAN VAUDVILLE was published by Mammoth Books, a small literary press; we see BENEFACTION as her commercial breakout.