This event is free and open to the public.
In his seventh novel, PRAIRIE FEVER, Michael Parker takes his readers to the prairie of Oklahoma in the early 1900s and introduces two sisters, opposites in every way, as they grow up amongst the rugged landscape. Dominic Smith, the author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, says, “Michael Parker has captured a time, place, and sisterhood so perfectly it hurts to turn the last page.”
Each morning, Lorena and Elise mount the family horse and ride off to school, reading the pages of the town newspaper along the way. Elise, creative and chimerical, dreams about a life of adventure and excitement, while Lorena, logical and pragmatic, charts her path towards higher education to become a school teacher. When Elise gets lost during a blizzard after trying to investigate a story from their daily newspaper, the newly arrived schoolteacher helps Lorena rescue her sister. In the height of the moment, the sisters both immediately fall for him, forever changing the balance of their bond.
Although set in the early 1900s, the sisters’ feelings seem entirely modern as they grapple with how their choices change their relationships. Describing the novel, Parker says it is, “about the sacrifices and settlements we make with ourselves and others as we attempt to navigate romantic and familial relationships. And, like all my work, the story is on some level about the discrepancy between our private and public selves, and the ragged attempts we make—daily, hourly—to reconcile the two.”
Michael Parker’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, the Oxford American, Runner's World, Men's Journal, and elsewhere. His work has been anthologized in The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize. He is the Nicholas and Nancy Vacc Distinguished Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and divides his time between Saxapahaw, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas.