112th: Laura Esther Wolfson on For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors
Join us on Tuesday, October 23rd at 7pm for a discussion with Laura Esther Wolfson on For Single Mothers Who Work as Train Conductors, winner of the Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction. Meghan Daum will be joining Laura in conversation.
Laura Esther Wolfson’s literary debut draws on years of immersion in the Russian and French languages; struggles to gain a basic understanding of Judaism, its history, and her place in it; and her search for a form to hold the stories that emerge from what she has lived, observed, overheard, and misremembered. For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors was the recipient of the 2017 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction.
In “Proust at Rush Hour,” when her lungs begin to collapse and fail, forcing her to give up an exciting and precarious existence as a globetrotting simultaneous interpreter, she seeks consolation by reading Proust in the original while commuting by subway to a desk job that requires no more than a minimal knowledge of French. In “For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors” she gives away her diaphragm and tubes of spermicidal jelly to a woman in the Soviet Union who, with two unwanted pregnancies behind her, needs them more than she does. “The Husband Method” has her translating a book on Russian obscenities and gulag slang during the dissolution of her marriage to the Russian-speaker who taught her much of what she knows about that language.
In prose spangled with pathos and dusted with humor, Wolfson transports us to Paris, the Republic of Georgia, upstate New York, the Upper West Side, and the corridors of the United Nations, telling stories that skewer, transform, and inspire.
Laura Esther Wolfson's writing has received the 2017 Notting Hill Essay Prize, been published in leading literary venues on both sides of the Atlantic, and repeatedly cited in The Best American Essays
Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids. Meghan was an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Times for more than a decade and has also written for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue.