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Reading & Conversation: Jonathan Corcoran “No Son of Mine” (w/ Christa Parravani)

May 8 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

This evening is one for examining family, relationships, and carving one’s own identity apart from or despite those we came from. White Whale hosts two West Virginian memoirists, Jonathan Corcoran and Christa Parravani, in conversation about Corcoran’s new release, No Son of Mine.

Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Jonathan Corcoran was the youngest and only son of three siblings in a family balanced on the precipice of poverty. His mother, a traditional, evangelical, and insular woman who had survived abuse and abandonment, was often his only ally. Together they navigated a strained homelife dominated by his distant, gambling-addicted father and shared a seemingly unbreakable bond.

When Corcoran left home to attend Brown University, a chasm between his upbringing and his reality began to open. As his horizons and experiences expanded, he formed new bonds beyond bloodlines, and met the upper-middle-class Jewish man who would become his husband. But this authentic life would not be easy, and Corcoran was forever changed when his mother disowned him after discovering his truth. In the ensuing fifteen years, the two would come together only to violently spring apart. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged in 2020, the cycle finally ended when he received the news that his mother had died.

In No Son of Mine, Corcoran traces his messy estrangement from his mother through lost geographies: the trees, mountains, and streams that were once his birthright, as well as the lost relationships with friends and family and the sense of home that were stripped away when she said he was no longer her son. A biography nestled inside a memoir, No Son of Mine is Corcoran’s story of alienation and his attempts to understand his mother’s choice to cut him out of her life. Through grief, anger, questioning, and growth, Corcoran explores the entwined yet separate histories and identities of his mother and himself.

JONATHAN CORCORAN is the author of the memoir, No Son of Mine (April 2024), which was awarded a Kirkus Star. His story collection, The Rope Swing, was named a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and long-listed for The Story Prize. His essays and stories have been published and anthologized widely, including in Still: The Journal, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, Best Gay Stories, and the Oxford University Press textbook, How Writing Works. He received a BA in Literary Arts from Brown University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Rutgers University-Newark. Jonathan teaches writing at New York University and in the low-residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more at jonathancorcoranwrites.com.

CHRISTA PARRAVANI is the bestselling author of Her: A Memoir. She has taught at Dartmouth College, UMass Amherst, SUNY Purchase, and West Virginia University, where she served as an Assistant Professor of Creative Nonfiction. She earned her MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Newark.

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May 8
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


White Whale Books & Coffee
4754 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15224United States
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(412) 224-2847
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White Whale Bookstore
(412) 224-2847
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