Maine writer Katy Kelleher explores our obsession with gorgeous things, unveiling the fraught histories of makeup, flowers, perfume, silk, and other beautiful objects in The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Essays on Desire and Consumption
In these dazzling and deeply researched essays, Katy Kelleher blends science, history, and memoir to uncover the dark underbellies of our favorite goods. She reveals the crushed beetle shells in our lipstick, the musk of rodents in our perfume, and the burnt cow bones baked into our dishware. She untangles the secret history of silk and muses on her problematic prom dress. She tells the story of countless workers dying in their efforts to bring us shiny rocks from unsafe mines that shatter and wound the earth, all because a diamond company created a compelling ad. She examines the enduring appeal of the beautiful dead girl and the sad fate of the ugly mollusk. With prose as stunning as the objects she describes, Kelleher invites readers to examine their own relationships with the beautiful objects that adorn their body and grace their homes.
Kelleher will read from this recent work in the first New Writing Series event of the semester, which will be hosted by faculty member Greg Howard. Q&A to follow. Free and open to the public.
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The UMaine New Writing Series was founded in 1999 and is sponsored by the English Department and the Center for Poetry and Poetics (formerly the National Poetry Foundation), with support from the Eaton Family New Writing Series Fund, the Lloyd H. Elliott Fund, the Milton Ellis Memorial Fund, the Honors College, and the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Committee. Grateful acknowledgment is made to the IMRC, and to donors Allen and Sally Fernald, for use of the Fernald APPE space.
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