Joseph Bathanti, The Act of Contrition

Joseph Bathanti's THE ACT OF CONTRITION & OTHER STORIES, a series of linked stories and one novella, continues the adventures of Fritz Sweeney and his outrageously memorable parents, Travis and Rita, that began in Bathanti's earlier award-winning volume of stories, THE HIGH HEART. Spanning the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies, in an Italian American working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, THE ACT OF CONTRITION celebrates and complicates the operatic glories and tragedies of an offbeat family that, fashioned from the vault of explosive family secrets, is snared in its own incendiary mythology. These fourteen unforgettable stories - a mélange of incantatory magical realism and clear-eyed documentary precision (in the vein of Raymond Carver) - are narrated by Fritz in a prophetic voice that issues at once from the very aggregate of steel town Pittsburgh and his deep yearning to escape it.


"More than just about any other writer I can think of, Joseph Bathanti's work has always felt like life to me. Perhaps it resonates with my own life-regional identity, blue collar background-or perhaps it resonates with the many mysteries of the lives of others that I often find myself wondering about. Bathanti does what the best realists do: he brings beauty to the terror of the mundane, mystery to the overlooked desperation of people we might never meet in real life but will know intimately because we have met them in Bathanti's fiction. The stories in this collection continue a long career that has found Bathanti plumbing the depths of the human heart and untangling mystery all the while." -Wiley Cash, author of When Ghosts Come Home

"Joseph Bathanti's THE ACT OF CONTRITION & OTHER STORIES is a beautiful book of richly observed realism, passionate and bold and subtle and shocking, that recreates in rich detail a way of life, a culture, a community, and the deepest struggles of its wonderfully evoked characters." -Phil Klay, author of Redeployment


Joseph Bathanti is the former North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-14) and recipient of the North Carolina Award (for Literature), the state's highest civilian honor. He is the author of twenty books, including poetry, fiction and nonfiction, as well as co-edited volumes of poetry. Bathanti is Professor of English and McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education & Writer-in-Residence of Appalachian State University's Watauga Residential College in Boone, NC. He also teaches in Carlow University's low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing in Pittsburgh, the city in which he was born and raised. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC, and is the co-founder of the Medical Center's Creative Writing Program.

The Act of Contrition and Other Stories By Joseph Bathanti Cover Image
ISBN: 9781958094273
Availability: Available - We'll have it for you ASAP!
Published: Eastover Press LLC - July 25th, 2023

Event date: 
Thursday, September 7, 2023 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Event address: 
304 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27401