The Bookstore in Lenox will host two book signings, one for Tyringham resident John Demos on Saturday and another for Stockbridge native Adam Begley on Thursday, April 3.
Demos will read from, discuss and sign copies of "The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic" on Saturday at 5 p.m. For more information, visit news.yale.edu/2014/03/12/book-heathen-school.
Just published this month by Knopf, "The Heathen School" tells the story of a group of eminent Protestant ministers who, in the early 19th Century, as the newly established United States began looking outward toward the wider world, formed a grand scheme for gathering "the rest of mankind into the redemptive fold of Christianity and ‘civilization.' "
Its core element was a special school, in nearby Corn wall, Conn., for "heathen youth" drawn from all parts of the earth, including the Pacific Islands, China, India, and, increasingly, the native nations of North America. If all went well, graduates would return to join similar projects in their respective homelands. For some years, the school prospered and became famous. How ever, when two Cherokee students courted and married local women, public resolve -- and fundamental ideals -- were put to a severe test.
Demos is the author of "The Unredeemed Captive," winner of the Francis Parkman Prize and finalist for the National Book Award, and "Entertaining Satan," winner of the Bancroft Prize.
"The Heathen School" follows the progress, and the demise, of this institution through the lives of individual students: Among them, Hen ry Obookiah, a young Ha waiian who ran away from home and worked as a seaman in the China Trade before ending up in New England; John Ridge, son of a powerful Cherokee chief and subsequently a leader in the process of Indian "removal"; and Elias Boudinot, editor of the first newspaper published by and for Native Americans. From its birth as a beacon of hope for universal "salvation," the heathen school descended into bitter controversy, as American racial attitudes hardened and intensified. Instead of encouraging reconciliation, the school exposed the limits of tolerance and set off a chain of events that culminated in the Trail of Tears.
Begley, long time editor and critic, has written for the New York Times, London Review of Books, the Guardian and other periodicals. He will read from, discuss and sign copies of "Updike" on Thursday, April 3, at 5 p.m.
"Updike" is Begley's much-anticipated biography of one of the most celebrated figures in American literature, Pul itzer Prize-winning author John Updike -- a candid, intimate and richly detailed look at his life and work.
For more information, visit www.harpercollins.com/books/Updike-Adam-Begley/.
John Updike saw himself as a literary spy in small-town and suburban America, who dedicated himself "to the task of transcribing middleness with all its grits, bumps and anonymities."
Begley's biography explores the stages of Updike's literary career, from his beloved home turf of Berks County, Pennsylvania to Harvard, to a busy working life as the then golden boy at The New Yorker, his family years and extensive travel abroad.
With a sharp critical sensibility that lends depth and originality to his analysis, Begley probes Updike's best-loved works -- from "Pigeon Feathers," to "The Witches of Eastwick" and the "Rabbit" tetralogy --and reveals a surprising and deeply complex character fraught with contradictions: a kind man with a vicious wit, a gregarious charmer who was ruthlessly competitive, a private person compelled to spill his secrets on the printed page. "Updike" offers an admiring, yet balanced look, at this national treasure, a master whose writing continues to resonate like no one else's.
Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, please call (413) 637-3390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.