Katharine Smyth at Harvard Book Store
All the Lives We Ever Lived:
Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf
in conversation with DARCY FREY
This event includes a book signing
Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome writer and editor KATHARINE SMYTH for a discussion of her debut book, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Finding Solace in Virginia Woolf. She will be joined in conversation by award-winning writer DARCY FREY—author of The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams.
About All the Lives We Ever Lived
Katharine Smyth was a student at Oxford when she first read Virginia Woolf’s modernist masterpiece To the Lighthouse in the comfort of an English sitting room, and in the companionable silence, she shared with her father. After his death—a calamity that claimed her favorite person—she returned to that beloved novel as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief.
Smyth’s story moves between the New England of her childhood and Woolf’s Cornish shores and Bloomsbury squares, exploring universal questions about family, loss, and homecoming. Through her inventive, highly personal reading of To the Lighthouse, and her artful adaptation of its groundbreaking structure, Smyth guides us toward a new vision of Woolf’s most demanding and rewarding novel—and crafts an elegant reminder of literature’s ability to clarify and console.
Braiding memoir, literary criticism, and biography, All the Lives We Ever Lived is a wholly original debut: a love letter from a daughter to her father, and from a reader to her most cherished author.
“Modern American memoir doesn't get better—or more inventive—than this. By weaving the story of her father's death with a meditation on Virginia Woolf's great novel, Katharine Smyth has written a book that is both fiercely moving and full of bristling intelligence. All the Lives We Ever Lived isn't just a literary tour de force; it's an enlarging reminder of the evanescence of our lives. Smyth has twinned her sensibility with Woolf's to extraordinary effect. A wonderful debut.” —Darcy Frey, author of The Last Shot
“I loved All the Lives We Ever Lived: its structural inventiveness, its fluid and lyrically beautiful writing—some lines made me gasp—and its often astonishing wisdom. But above all, this is a smart, moving portrait of a family in crisis; Smyth weaves literary criticism and biography into nearly every page, but she never strays from the deepest concerns of the human heart.” —Jamie Quatro, author of Fire Sermon and I Want to Show You More
“A conceptually ambitious and assured debut, successfully bridging memoir and literary criticism . . . A work of incisive observation and analysis, exquisite writing, and an attempt to determine if there is 'any revelation that could lessen loss, that could help to make the fact of death okay.'” —Kirkus Reviews starred review