At Skylight: Nicolette Polek presents BITTER WATER OPERA w/ Brian Evenson

At Skylight: Nicolette Polek presents BITTER WATER OPERA w/ Brian Evenson

Join us for an electrifying debut novel about art, solitude, family, and faith in a world without it.

In 1967, the dancer Marta Becket and her husband were traveling through Death Valley Junction when they came across an abandoned theater. Marta decided it was hers. She painted her ideal audience on its walls and danced her own dances until her death five decades later.

In the present day, Gia has ended a relationship and taken a leave from her job in film studies at a university. She is sleeping fifteen hours a night and ignoring calls from her mother. In a library archive, she comes across a photo of Marta Becket and decides to write her a letter. Soon Marta magically appears in her home.

Gia hopes Marta Becket will guide her out of her despair. But is Marta—the example of her single-minded, solitary life—enough? Through precise, vivid vignettes, Bitter Water Opera follows Gia as she resists the urge to escape into herself and struggles to form a lasting connection to the world. Her search has her reckoning with a set of terrifying charcoal drawings on her garage walls, a corpse in the middle of a pond, a crooked pear sapling, and other mysterious entities before bringing her to Marta’s theater, the Amargosa Opera House. There in the desert, Gia finds one answer.

In this brief, astonishing novel, Nicolette Polek describes an individual awakening to faith while exploring our deepest existential questions. How do we look beyond ourselves? Where do words go? What is art for?

NICOLETTE POLEK is the author of Imaginary Museums. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review Daily, BOMB, New York Tyrant, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award and recently completed an MAR at Yale Divinity School.

BRIAN EVENSON is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell (2021) and the Weird West microcollection Black Bark (2023). His collection Song for the Unraveling of the World (2019) won the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times’ Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction. Previous books have won the American Library Association’s  RUSA  Award and the International Horror Guild Award, and have been finalists for the Edgar Award. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes, an NEA fellowship, and a Guggenheim Award. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches at CalArts.

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Bitter Water Opera: A Novel By Nicolette Polek Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644452837
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 16th, 2024