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Joan Wickersham, author of the highly acclaimed book The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order, will read from this recently released memoir on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Room of Miller Library at Colby College. The reading is part of the ongoing Visiting Writers Series that will bring two additional authors later in the academic year.

In The Suicide Index, Wickersham attempts to unravel the mystery of her father’s life using an index-that most formal and objective of structures-to impose order on this chaotic and incomprehensible reality. Every bit of family history, every encounter with friends, doctors, and other survivors exposes another facet of the elusive truth.

This powerful work, for which Wickersham is a National Book Award finalist, tries to make sense of a family’s history in light of a seemingly senseless act. Both a memoir and a meditation on memory, The Suicide Index asks the core question: How do you come to grips with a loved one whose death makes him a mystery?

Joan Wickersham wrote the novel The Paper Anniversary. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and she has published essays in Glamour, Yankee, and the Boston Globe, and contributed and read essays on National Public Radio’s On Point and Morning Edition.

On February 24, 2009, the series presents graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, author of the critically acclaimed Fun Home (called “one of the very best graphic novels ever” in Booklist) and of the syndicated comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For (DTWOF). At the podium, Bechdel redefines race and gender roles while taking aim at some of the most controversial topics of the day.

Hailed by Ms. magazine as “one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comic genre, period,” Bechdel’s DTWOF is syndicated in more than 50 alternative newspapers and publications, translated into many languages and collected into a book series with more than 250,000 copies in print. Bechdel’s work has also appeared in Ms., The Village Voice, The Advocate, Out, Gay Comics, and many other comic books, ‘zines, and anthologies. Fun Home is her first graphic novel.

“Hers are thinkers’ comics,” wrote American Splendor author Harvey Pekar, “full of the stuff that classics like Gasoline Alley and Doonesbury are made of.”

On April 7, 2009, the series brings Maine’s Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl, author of six collections of poetry, most recently Late Psalm. Don’t Explain won the Felix Pollak Prize from the University of Wisconsin, and The Red Line won the Associated Writing Programs prize for poetry.

Sholl was a founding member of Alice James Books in Farmington and published three collections with them: Changing Faces, Appalachian Winter and Rooms Overhead. Her work has been included in several anthologies, including Letters to America and Contemporary American Poetry on Race, and in magazines including The Massachusetts Review and the Beloit Poetry Journal. She teaches at the University of Southern Maine and Vermont College.