The Read-Write-South bookclub is reading "The Prettiest Star" by Carter Sickels (virtual)

The Read-Write-South bookclub is reading "The Prettiest Star" by Carter Sickels (virtual)

September 30th 2020 | 6:00 PM - 6:40 PM

The Read | Write | South book club discusses new Southern Literature, featuring a few books by Hub City Press. This month, we will be discussing Carter Sickels's The Prettiest Star. For this wonderful Hub City Press title, we are so excited to announce a special Q & A with the author! Carter Sickels will be joining us to participate in our book club discussion on Wednesday, September 30th, from 6 p.m. to 6:40 p.m.

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The Prettiest Star

by Carter Sickels

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EW's 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 • O Magazine's "31 LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020" •  BookRiot's "Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books of 2020" •  Lambda Literary's "Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books of May 2020" •  Salon's "Best and boldest new must-read books for May" •  BookPage's "19 can’t-miss reads from independent publishers" • Garden & Gun's "Best Books of May" •  Logo NewNowNext's “11 Queer Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Spring”

A stunning novel about the bounds of family and redemption, shines light on an overlooked part of the AIDs epidemic when men returned to their rural communities to die, by Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award-winning author Carter Sickels.

Small-town Appalachia doesn't have a lot going for it, but it’s where Brian is from, where his family is, and where he’s chosen to return to die.

Set in 1986, a year after Rock Hudson’s death brought the news of AIDS into living rooms and kitchens across America, Lambda Literary award-winning author Carter Sickels’s second novel shines light on an overlooked part of the epidemic, those men who returned to the rural communities and families who’d rejected them.

Six short years after Brian Jackson moved to New York City in search of freedom and acceptance, AIDS has claimed his lover, his friends, and his future. With nothing left in New York but memories of death, Brian decides to write his mother a letter asking to come back to the place, and family, he was once so desperate to escape.

The Prettiest Star is told in a chorus of voices: Brian’s mother Sharon; his fourteen-year-old sister, Jess, as she grapples with her brother’s mysterious return; and the video diaries Brian makes to document his final summer.

This is an urgent story about the politics and fragility of the body, of sex and shame. Above all, Carter Sickels’s stunning novel explores the bounds of family and redemption. It is written at the far reaches of love and understanding, centering on the moments where those two forces stretch toward each other and sometimes touch.


Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Evening Hour. He is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award, and has been awarded scholarships to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, VCCA, and the MacDowell Colony. His essays and fiction have appeared in various publications, including Guernica, Bellevue Literary Review, and BuzzFeed, and he is the editor of Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity. Carter is Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches in the Bluegrass Writers Studio Low-Residency MFA program.

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