The Stories of Brad Watson: A Tribute

MANHATTAN | IN PERSON
16 July 2024

On July 16, the W.W. Norton publication date of Brad Watson's posthumous collection, THERE IS HAPPINESS, stories from this beloved titan of contemporary Southern fiction will be celebrated with performances by five great actors. Sponsored by Phiphen Pictures!

The Stories of Brad Watson: A Tribute

MANHATTAN | IN PERSON

16 July 2024 Tuesday 07:00pm (NY)

On July 16, the W.W. Norton publication date of Brad Watson's posthumous collection, THERE IS HAPPINESS, stories from this beloved titan of contemporary Southern fiction will be celebrated with performances by five great actors. Sponsored by Phiphen Pictures!

This evening will feature short stories by Brad Watson, performed by actors Raul Castillo, Mary Beth Peil, Bellamy Young, Chiké Okonkwo, and Vincent Piazza. The event will take place at The Players, the oldest private members club in NYC still in it’s original home on Gramercy Park South. Doors open at 6 pm for mingling around the cash bar followed by a 7 pm performance. Copies of Brad’s posthumous collection There is Happiness will be available for purchase.

Tickets

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Talent

Raul Castillo, Mary Beth Piel, Bellamy Young, Chiké Okonkwo, and Vincent Piazza will step into stories by this marvelous author!

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Author

Brad Watson (1955–2020) was the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Heaven of Mercury and Miss Jane, and two collections of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives. His work has been recognized by the short list and long list of the National Book Award, the International Dublin Literary Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Great Lakes New Writers Award, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Fiction (twice), the Southern Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction, a National Endowment of the Arts Grant in Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Harper Lee Award, and the Award in Letters granted by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He taught creative writing at Harvard University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Wyoming, Laramie.

ABOUT BRAD WATSON’S COLLECTION

“Here is a generous portion of the work of a swiftly passing lifetime. Bountiful is the deserving page,” Joy Williams writes in her introduction to this astonishing selection of Brad Watson’s published and unpublished stories: “excellent, assured, funny, startling, heartbreaking, wild,“ full of “freakish flair” and “melancholy realism”—stories that give us a “glimpse” of ourselves “so surprising, so varied yet unequivocal, so ruthlessly complete, that it does awaken us in some manner, if not protect or prepare us.”

Brad Watson was a master of dark comedy, extraordinary lyricism, appalling grotesquerie, and unabashed vulnerability; a sublime prose stylist whose novels and stories drew upon the fecundity and moodiness of the South. Male meltdown, carrying with it the possibility of being saved by Dolly Parton or some other woman or maybe by animal friends, is a theme, as is young love and its disillusionment, as are strange neighbors who cannot be understood. A leopard that consumes its zookeeper, pronghorn antelope tenderly transporting the poop of their young, insufferably articulate birds and restless, tolerant dogs—this is also eco-fiction of a very peculiar sort, in which nature reassures, transcends, and finally escapes judging or being judged by us.

Roller-coastering from the mournful to the comical (sometimes in the same paragraph), Watson’s work is both embedded in a literary heritage tied to place and at home in a universal literature of the absurd. His stories waltz with lovely and strange melancholy, infused with wit and astonishing beauty. There Is Happiness embodies the twisted hilarity and undeniable grace of an underrecognized literary genius.

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