PETER ROCK discusses his new book SPELLS

Spells (Counterpoint Press)

Acclaimed author Peter Rock’s interest in using images for storytelling began while working as a security guard in an art museum. Twenty years later, reminded of the stories he created from the photographs and images he saw on the job, he began to envision a similar project—a project for which he received a Guggenheim scholarship, and which eventually became Spells: A Novel Within Photographs.

First, he asked five photographers he admired to send him images. Then, he used those images as a foundation for his writing—a ship in a lit window gives hope to a dark night, a pair of shadow hands fumble to make a duck or a dog. From a collection of diverse images Rock builds a single narrative that effortlessly weaves between the specific and the universal, dream and reality, prose and poetry.

As he explains: “The images came first. One way to think of it is that the stories herein, and the larger story they become, were already embedded in the photographs. My attention and intuition acted as a kind of excavation that brought them to the surface, into words.”

The texts range from narrative to prose poem, from folktale to rant to reverie to an essay written by a fourth grader. The overarching story follows three friends who have recently graduated from high school; it explores their relationships and how things change when they become entangled with an elderly widower who claims to have dreamt of one of them. The ensuing drama explores the relationship between dreams and waking life, between the head and the heart, between shadows and their bodies, between the living and the dead.

Peter Rock was born and raised in Salt Lake City. His most recent novel is Klickitat (Abrams 2016). He is also the author of six other novels, includingThe Shelter Cycle (2013) and My Abandonment (2009), as well as a collection of stories, The Unsettling (2006). The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Alex Award and others, he currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where he is a Professor at Reed College. His novel-within-photographs, Spells, was shown at Blue Sky Gallery in 2015 and is currently traveling around Oregon.

Photo by Ida Rock

Event date: 
Saturday, May 27, 2017 - 5:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Spells: A Novel Within Photographs Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619029002
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - May 9th, 2017

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ISBN: 9780385485982
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Anchor Books - September 28th, 2001