Virtual Author Talk: Kerri Arsenault "Mill Town"
Author Kerri Arsenault grew up in the rural working class town of Mexico, Maine, where for over 100 years the community has orbited around a paper mill that employs most townspeople, including three generations of Arsenault’s own family. Now in her book “Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains” Arsenault asks the question what are we willing to tolerate and whose lives are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival? Join Arsenault for a virtual author talk on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. with the Jesup Memorial Library on Zoom.
Years after she moved away from Mexico, Arsenault realized the price she paid for her seemingly secure childhood. The mill, while providing livelihoods for nearly everyone, also contributed to the destruction of the environment and the decline of the town’s economic, physical and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname “Cancer Valley.” “Mill Town” is a personal investigation, where Arsenault sifts through historical archives and scientific reports, talks to family and neighbors, and examines her own childhood to look at the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxins and disease.
Publisher’s Weekly writes that “Mill Town” is “[a] powerful, investigative memoir…Arsenault paints a soul-crushing portrait of a place that’s suffered ‘the smell of death and suffering’ almost since its creation. This moving and insightful memoir reminds readers that returning home—‘the heart of human identity’—is capable of causing great joy and profound disappointment.” And Library Journal adds “Arsenault’s compelling debut asks readers to consider how relationships between humans and nature impact our bodies and environment.” Also, O Magazine chose “Mill Town” as one of its “Best Books of Fall 2020.”
Arsenault is the Book Review Editor at Orion magazine, and Contributing Editor at Lithub. Arsenault received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and studied in Malmö University’s Communication for Development master’s programme. Her writing has appeared in Freeman’s, Lithub, Oprah.com, and The Minneapolis Star Tribune, among other publications.
Copies of “Mill Town” can be purchased from co-sponsor Sherman’s Books at any Sherman’s location, by calling 207-288-4245 or online at shermans.com. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link. To register visit jesuplibrary.org/events/arsenault and fill out the form or email email@example.com.