In this pair of novellas, award-winning author Scott Alexander Hess provides a richly textured portrait of the shifting landscape of the 20th century American Dream.
The Root of Everything is a multi-generational saga tracking fathers and sons from Germany's Black Forest to Missouri as they experience tragedy, triumph, forbidden love, and hard-earned reckonings.
In Lightning, a young man in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1918 is driven by his deep love for horses and his emerging feelings for another man. Offered a chance to move to New York City, he finds his true destiny.
Shot through with layers of grief, passion, dangerous landscapes, and old-world mysticism, these are journeys into love, loss, and twists of fate that define us. Hess tells stories as deep as the Missouri River and as wide-ranging as the Wild American West.
"Scott Alexander Hess's writing brims with elegant simplicity and pulses with fierce emotional insight." - Joe Okonkwo, author of Kiss the Scars on the Back of My Neck and Jazz Moon
"In The Root of Everything and Lightning, Scott Alexander Hess uncovers deep affinities between the wide-openness of the American landscape and the wide-eyed optimism of its people-cowmen and farmers, fortune tellers and hard laborers, queer fellows and new women. Sinuously constructed and simmering with eroticism, these short novels nevertheless pack emotional punch. Historical fiction at its cutting-edge best." -Patrick E. Horrigan, author of Pennsylvania Station
"As dense as the Black Forest and as magnificent as an old oak, The Root of Everything feels like flipping through a family album of three generations of men, in which Hess has captured brief moments to tell their entire stories of love in all its joy, sorrow and grief." -Jamie Brickhouse, author of Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir of Booze, Sex and My Mother
"The Root of Everything takes us from a cold forest in Germany to the complicated promised land of the American Midwest and beyond. This is a story about the forces that shape us-the bonds of blood and love and nature. It's a riveting tale written with both heart and precision." -Jonathan Corcoran, author of The Rope Swing
About our Speakers
Scott Alexander Hess is the author of five novels, including Skyscraper, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, and The Butcher’s Sons, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015. His writing has appeared in HuffPost, Genre Magazine, The Fix, Thema Literary Review, and elsewhere. Hess co-wrote "Tom in America," an award-winning short film, starring Sally Kirkland and Burt Young. He teaches fiction writing at Gotham Writers Workshop and curates Hot Lit, an LGBTQ+ themed monthly newsletter. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Hess lives in New York City with his husband.
Donald C. Miller holds a master's degree in media literacy and has coauthored a previous media literacy textbook with Art Silverblatt.
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