Hub City is excited to welcome Leslie Pietrzyk to the shop for an event celebrating the publication of her new short story collection Admit This to No One. Set in Washington, D.C., the stories in this collection explore issues of power and policy, oppression and opportunity, family and fairness. Starring a cast of female characters, all of whom exist in the orbit of an influential man, the book engages issues that radiate outward from our nation's capital, inflecting and defining our broader cultural debates.
Pietrzyk will be joined in conversation by Susan Tekulve, Associate Professor of English at Converse College and author of, among other works, the essay collection Second Shift. Come out to the Bookshop at 6pm on Thursday, January 20th for what's sure to be a thought-provoking conversation! This event is free and open to all, but save your seat and a copy of the book below!
“Leslie Pietrzyk takes a scalpel to White Washington, D.C., and doesn't flinch as she cuts it open. In these breathless (sometimes jaw-dropping) stories, Leslie dissects with precision, giving us every lonely, sad, and selfish thought from characters we've met at least once in the nation's capital.”
―Melanie S. Hatter, author of Malawi's Sisters
In Admit This to No One, we meet a group of women connected to a central figure either personally or professionally, and for better or for worse―an all-powerful and elusive Speaker of the House, whose political career has only stopped short of being Presidential due to his myriad extra-marital affairs. The Speaker’s daughters from his several failed marriages have a complicated relationship with him to say the least―alternating between longing for his affection or bristling with resentment, and occasionally relief at being left out of the spotlight.
His oldest daughter Lexie, from his “real family, the first one,” once his favorite who knew the real him, is now an adult who has blown up her career due to a sex scandal of her own. His long-time fixer and keeper of secrets, Mary-Grace, is relentless and uncompromising in her devotion to him, making the lives of the interns and aides under her purview in the Capitol miserable. When the Speaker’s life is in danger, the disparate women in his life will collide for the first time, but can their relationships be repaired?
These stories show us how Washington, D.C.’s true currency is power, but power is inextricable from oppression― D.C. is a city divided, not just by red or blue, right or left, but Black and white. Segregated by income and opportunity, but also physically by bridges and rivers, and police vehicles, Leslie Pietrzyk casts an unflinching and exacting gaze on her characters, as they grapple with the ways they have upheld white supremacy and misogyny. Shocking and profound, Pietrzyk writes with an emotional urgency about what happens when the bonds of family and duty are pushed to the limit, and how if individuals re-evaluate their own beliefs and actions there is a path forward.
"Themes of power inequities, performative racial allyship, and sexual harassment wind through these brief but detailed sketches of America’s complicated and often unwritten rules of etiquette."
—Delia Stanley, Foreword Reviews
Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of the novel Silver Girl, released in 2018 by Unnamed Press, and called “profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing” in a Publishers Weekly starred review. In November 2021, Unnamed Press will publish Admit This to No One, a collection of stories set in Washington, DC. Pietrzyk’s collection of unconventionally linked short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the 16 best story collections of the year, Her previous novels are Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Short fiction and essays have appeared in Southern Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Iowa Review, Washingtonian, The Collagist, Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, Salon, Washingtonian, Washington Post Magazine, and many others. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and in 2020, her story “Stay There” was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Pietrzyk is a member of the core fiction faculty at the Converse low-residency MFA program and often teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. Raised in Iowa, she now lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Susan Tekulve’s newest book is Second Shift: Essays. She is the author of In the Garden of Stone, winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Prize and a 2014 Gold IPPY Award. She’s also published two short story collections: Savage Pilgrims and My Mother’s War Stories. Her nonfiction, short stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, The Louisville Review, Puerto del Sol, New Letters, and Shenandoah. She has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She teaches in the BFA and MFA writing programs at Converse College.