Join novelist, poet, playwright and essayist Peter Grandbois for a discussion of, and reading from, Kissing the Lobster, his collection of personal essays using his experience returning to high level competitive fencing on the U.S. circuit after a nearly twenty-year absence as a lens through which to examine the need to live an authentic life, particularly in light of aging and the many midlife questions arising as one faces mortality.
The collection uses the ancient samurai code of Bushido (Justice, Courage, Mercy, Courtesy, Honesty, Honor, Loyalty, and Character) in addition to four more traits Grandbois added as a framework to examine the difficulties of staying true to your ideals given the compromises of age and the pressures of the larger cultural emphasis on youth. The collection doesn’t seek to provide a recipe for the authentic life but rather an interrogation of the idea of authenticity in a culture obsessed with the surface. In the end, Kissing the Lobster is an ode to failure, a rallying cry for the inevitability of pain and the acceptance of loss. It is a reminder that in hiding from pain, in shying away from failure, we forget what is most essential in ourselves.
Peter Grandbois is the author of seven previous books including, most recently, the poetry collection This House, That, and the novella The Girl on the Swing. His debut novel, The Gravedigger was the 2006 Booklist Book of the Year. His work has previously appeared in such journals as, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, Boulevard, The Denver Quarterly, and DIAGRAM among many others, and has been shortlisted for both Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize. His plays have been performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles, and New York. He is senior editor at Boulevard magazine and teaches at Denison University in Ohio.