Archives par étiquette : Frances Goldin Literary Agency

POETS SQUARE de Courtney Gustafson

Beautifully written literary nonfiction about animals with a profound core like H Is for Hawk and Fox and I. Structured in smart, snappy personal essays that probe at the problems of personhood in the internet age, it will appeal to fans of Melissa Broder or Jia Tolentino, and its introspective, generous thinking on self and society evokes Wintering.

Essays on Cats & Community
by Courtney Gustafson
Crown, 2024
(via Frances Goldin Literary Agency)

When Courtney Gustafson moved into a new rental in the Poets Square neighborhood in Tuscon, Arizona, she would never have guessed that a colony of feral cats living in her driveway would change her life forever. Settling into a secure romantic relationship while it felt like the world around her was burning down, she couldn’t know how reluctantly, then profoundly, she would come to care about the health and safety of those thirty-some-odd neglected cats: Beebs, Lola, Sadboy, Goldie, Dr. Big Butt, Reverse Monkey, Rihanna, and so many more.
She had no idea about the grief and hardship of animal rescue, the staggering size of the problem. And she couldn’t have imagined how that struggle—towards an ethics of care, of individuals trying their best amidst spectacularly failing systems—would help pierce a personal darkness she’d wrestled with much of her life. She also didn’t expect that the TikTok and Instagram accounts she created about the cats would end up with a just shy of a combined million followers.
POETS SQUARE is a memoir-in-essays about becoming an accidental cat rescuer, going viral, creating community, and surviving capitalism. These essays tell the brutal and tender stories of cats Courtney has saved (or failed to save) as a lens to explore everything from poverty and mental health to morality and misogyny. We see how cat rescue—despite its often-enormous sadness—paradoxically helped in a struggle with depression, showing the way towards an interrelated community of cats and care. The book explores caretaking and kindness in the face of a broken system: what it means for an individual to refuse to throw their hands up, to insist on showing up regardless of insurmountable problems, to search for ways to be a good person in the face of crushing overwhelm.

Courtney Gustafson is the creator of @PoetsSquareCats on TikTok (918k) and Instagram (61k). Her cats and rescue work have been featured on The Dodo, Newsweek, Best Friends Animal Society Magazine, and elsewhere. Before she had thirty cats, she completed a masters degree and PhD coursework in rhetoric and composition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where her interests included community literacies and literacy within incarcerated populations. She taught first-year writing at UMass before leaving academia to work in nonprofit communications. Most recently she’s worked for a large regional food bank, managing social media strategy, storytelling, fundraising, and crisis communications. She has continued to teach creative writing and adult basic literacy as a volunteer in prisons and in refugee communities in Tucson, Arizona, and volunteers as a mentor to incarcerated writers with PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Lady Science, Word Riot, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere.

IDLEWILD de James Frankie Thomas

A darkly funny and much gayer imagining of the classic prep school novel, IDLEWILD will appeal to readers of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

by James Frankie Thomas
Overlook/Abrams, Fall 2023
(via Frances Goldin Literary)

Idlewild is a tiny, artsy Quaker high school in lower Manhattan. Students call their teachers by their first names, there are no grades or awards, and every day begins with 20 minutes of contemplative silence. It is during one of those moments of worship that two airplanes hit the World Trade Center.
For two Idlewild outcasts, 9/11 serves as the first day of an intense, 18-month friendship. Fay is a prickly, aloof rich kid who is obsessed with gay men; Nell is a shy, sensitive scholarship student who is obsessed with Fay. The two of them bond fiercely over being the only two openly queer kids at Idlewild. But, as they rehearse for the school’s production of Othello, they notice two sexually ambiguous boys, Theo and Christopher, who are potential candidates for their exclusive Invert Society (née Gay-Straight Alliance). The pairs become mirrors of one another’s desires, anxieties, and loneliness. Their devotion to one another becomes an obsession, driving them to do things that they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.
Looking back on these events as adults, Fay and Nell, who haven’t spoken to each other in fifteen years, are haunted by shame over their Idlewild days. From alternating perspectives, they wonder if they could have done anything to save their friendship, or if it was meant to remain an artifact that couldn’t have existed outside of Idlewild’s walls.

James Frankie Thomas holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Their fiction has been published in the Paris Review online, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and The Toast, among other publications. One of these essays is included in the anthology We Are the Baby-Sitters Club, and another was adapted into a PBS NewsHour segment.

HOW TO CARE FOR A HUMAN GIRL de Ashley Wurzbacher

From “a writer at the top of her game” (The New York Times) comes a bighearted and sharply funny debut novel about two estranged sisters and the crossroads they face after becoming unexpectedly pregnant at the same time.

by Ashley Wurzbacher
Atria, August 2023
(via Frances Goldin Literary Agency)

Two years after the death of their mother, Jada and Maddy Battle both face unplanned pregnancies. Jada, a thirty-one-year-old psychology PhD student living in Pittsburgh, quietly obtains an abortion without telling her husband, but the secret causes turmoil in her already shaky marriage. Back home in rural Pennsylvania, nineteen-year-old Maddy, who spends her time caring for birds at a wildlife rehabilitation center, is paid off by the man who got her pregnant to get an abortion. But an unsettling visit to a crisis pregnancy center adds to her doubts about whether to go through with it.
Although Maddy still hasn’t forgiven Jada for a terrible betrayal, she goes to her for support, only to discover the cracks in the façade of her sister’s seemingly perfect life. As their past resentments boil over, the sisters must navigate the consequences of their choices and determine how best to care for themselves and each other.
With luminous prose and laser-sharp psychological insight, HOW TO CARE FOR A HUMAN GIRL is a compassionate and unforgettable examination of the complexities of choice, the special intimacy of sisterhood, and the bizarre ways our heated political moment manifests in daily life.

Ashley Wurzbacher is the author of the story collection Happy Like This, which won the 2019 Iowa Short Fiction Award and was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and a NYT Editors’ Choice. Born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, she currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama and teaches at the University of Montevallo.


The four pieces in TELL ME A RIDDLE are lyrical bulletins of working-class family life, charged with emotional detail and delivered with an attention to the rhythms of consciousness more rigorous and powerful than most of what is called realism.” –A.O. Scott, New York Times

by Tillie Olsen
‎ University of Nebraska Press, 2013
(via the Frances Goldin Literary Agency)

A century after her birth, Tillie Olsen’s writing is as relevant as when it first appeared; indeed, the clarity and passion of her vision and style have, if anything, become even more striking over time. Collected here for the first time are several of Olsen’s nonfiction pieces about the 1930s, early journalism pieces, and short fiction, including the four beautifully crafted, highly celebrated stories originally published as TELL ME A RIDDLE: “I Stand Here Ironing,” “Hey Sailor, What Ship?,” “O Yes,” and “Tell Me a Riddle.” Also included, for the first time since it appeared in the 1971 Best American Short Stories, is “Requa I.”
In these stories, as in all of her work, Olsen set a new standard for the treatment of women and the poor and for the depiction of their lives and circumstances. In her hands, the hard truths about motherhood and marriage, domestic life, labor, and political conviction found expression in language of such poetic intensity and depth that their influence continues to be felt today.
An introduction by Olsen’s granddaughter, the poet Rebekah Edwards, and a foreword by her daughter Laurie Olsen provide a personal and generational context for the author’s work.

Tillie Olsen, 1912-2007, is internationally renowned for her powerful writing about the inner lives of working-class families, women, and minorities. Her books, Tell Me a Riddle, Yonnondio from the Thirties, Silences, and her essays and lectures, have been translated into twelve languages. In April 2021, A.O. Scott, the critic at large and co-chief film critic for The New York Times, wrote about Tillie Olsen for his essay series on influential American authors, saying she “helped change the study of American literature, opening its canon to neglected voices and traditions.”

THE OTHER VALLEY de Scott Alexander Howard

Written in exquisite, spare prose, this literary debut novel is a cross between Kazuo Ishiguro’s speculative work, the clever fabulism of Ted Chiang, and the heart-rending search for where it all went wrong in Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library.

by Scott Alexander Howard
Atria/Simon & Schuster, Spring 2024
(via Frances Goldin Literary Agency)

Sixteen-year-old Odile Ozanne is an awkward, quiet girl, but everyone knows she’s destined to land a coveted seat on the Conseil. In her apprenticeship, she competes to become one of the judges to decide who amongst the town’s residents may travel across the border. If she earns the position, she’ll decree who may be escorted deep into the woods, who may cross the border’s barbed wire fence, who may make the arduous trek over the western mountain range — or perhaps the eastern range—to descend into the next valley over. It’s the same valley, the same town. However, to the east, the town is twenty years ahead in time. To the west, it’s twenty years behind. The towns repeat in an endless sequence across the wilderness. The only border crossings permitted by the Conseil are mourning tours: furtive viewings of the dead in towns where the dead are still alive.
Odile, wise beyond her years, will surely pass the Conseil’s vetting. But when she happens upon a mourning tour she wasn’t supposed to see, she realizes her dear friend Edme’s parents have crossed the border from the east, from twenty years in the future, to view their son still alive in Odile’s present.
Edme, who’s so funny and light. Edme, who’s a violin virtuoso at just sixteen! Edme, who’s the first boy to even see Odile, to really like her…. And it’s Edme who’s going to die.
Sworn to secrecy by the Conseil in order to preserve the timeline, Odile finds herself drawn even closer to the doomed boy. When Edme dies far sooner than Odile expects, when she does nothing to thwart his fate, she’s deeply shaken. The loss, her foreknowledge, the weight of her rare and varied grief all throw Odile’s own future, her adult life, into a devastating, downward spiral.
If your soul was stricken by the years, your teeth bloodied from all of life’s blows, would you risk being seen by the armed patrols, would you gamble with everyone’s lives, with your own, with the annihilation of an entire timeline to hike across the border and get back to where it all went wrong?
THE OTHER VALLEY is a dark, modern fable about time and fate. Readers will rush breathlessly to the end to see if the spark of hope in their hearts for Odile will grow again into the bright promise of her youth—or collapse into unchangeable catastrophe.

Scott Alexander Howard has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto, where he wrote an award-winning dissertation on literary emotions and the passage of time. His articles have appeared in journals such as Philosophical Quarterly and Analysis. Upon completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, he decided to pursue fiction. He now lives in Vancouver.