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At Skylight: Heather McCalden presents THE OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE w/ Rosecrans Baldwin

At Skylight: Heather McCalden presents THE OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE w/ Rosecrans Baldwin

Join us for a moving, original memoir of a young woman reckoning with her parents’ absence, the virus that took them, and what it means to search for meaning in a hyperconnected world.

“Brilliantly innovative . . . syncing a narrative of profoundly personal emotion with the invention and evolution of today’s cyberspace.”—William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and The Peripheral


In the early 1990s, Heather McCalden lost both her parents to AIDS. She was seven when her father died, ten when she lost her mother. Raised by her grandmother, Nivia, she grew up in Los Angeles, also known as ground zero for the virus and its destruction.

Years later, she begins researching online the history of HIV as a way to deal with her loss, which leads her to the unexpected realization that the AIDS crisis and the internet developed on parallel timelines. By accumulating whatever fragments she could about both phenomena—images, anecdotes, and scientific entries—alongside her own personal history, McCalden forms a synaptic journey of what happened to her family, one that leads to an equally unexpected discovery about who her parents might have been.

Entwining this personal search with a wider cultural narrative of what the virus and virality mean in our times—interrogating what it means to “go viral” in an era of explosive biochemical and virtual contagion—The Observable Universe is at once a history of our viral culture and a prismatic account of grief in the internet age.

Heather McCalden is a multidisciplinary artist working with text, image, and movement. She is a graduate of the Royal College of Art and has been awarded residencies by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Mahler & LeWitt Studios. The Observable Universe, winner of the Fitzcarraldo Editions/Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize, is her first book. She lives in New York City.

Rosecrans Baldwin is the bestselling author of Everything Now, winner of the California Book Award. Other books include The Last Kid Left and Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down. His debut novel, You Lost Me There, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

Event date: 
Friday, April 5, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Observable Universe: An Investigation By Heather McCalden Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780593596470
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - March 19th, 2024