Curing Season: Artifacts
forthcoming with West Virginia University Press, October 1, 2022

A coming-of-age book for everyone who came of age anywhere but home, Kristine Langley Mahler’s debut essay collection, Curing Season, pries apart the cracks of inclusion to experiment with the nature of belonging, memory, and place. After four years of adolescence in Pitt County, North Carolina, Mahler is still buffeted by the cultural differences between her pioneer-like upbringing in Oregon and the settled Southern traditions into which she could not assimilate. That yearning remains buried like a splinter as Mahler carefully tweezes out the artifacts of her adolescence, placing them beside the history of eastern North Carolina to study the narratives that have defined them both, trying to make room for outsiders in a place so old, million-year-old Megalodon shark teeth erupt from the creek beds every spring.

Collecting evidence of displacement—a graveyard in a mall parking lot, a suburban neighborhood of white kids bussed to desegregate public schools in the 1990s, and the death of her best friend—Mahler attempts to understand her failed grasp at belonging. But it isn’t until she encounters the Chronicles of Pitt County—a book of local family histories—that she takes inhabitation and truth apart, grafting and twisting and imprinting her history against theirs, until even she herself can no longer tell the difference between their truth and her own.

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