TODD ROBERT PETERSEN reads from his collection of stories IT NEEDS TO LOOK LIKE WE TRIED


May 18, 2018 – 7:30 PM

1818 N Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027 Map

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It Needs to Look Like We Tried (Counterpoint Press)

Everyone has a dream, an idea, a goal. But what happens when those desires are thwarted, when dreams and goals fall apart? In It Needs to Look Like We Tried, Todd Robert Petersen explores the ways in which our failures work on the lives of others, weaving an intricate web of interconnected stories.

A fastidious man takes a detour on the way to his father’s wedding and kicks off a series of events that ricochets from the bride to her real estate clients; to a crazed former homeowner and his sister-in-law’s reality TV lover; to a hoarding family whose lives are wrecked by their appearance on the second-rate show. Their daughter decides to escape the gravity of her tiny town with the help of her boyfriend who has a not-quite-legal plan to scrape together enough money to fund their departure.

On their way across the country, these star-crossed lovers encounter our fastidious man, and the Rube-Goldberg machine of life continues. Their fling has petered out, and they are driving home, whatever home is left after walking away from everything they abandoned a month before.

Praise for It Needs to Look Like We Tried

“In It Needs to Look Like We Tried, Todd Robert Petersen uses the tools of the novel (big picture, complex vision) and the short story (close observation, light touch) to present us with a wide-ranging world of intermingled lives. It’s something of a road trip, too—one you’ll be glad you took.” —Jon Clinch, author of Finn and Kings Of The Earth

“Todd Robert Petersen’s It Needs to Look Like We Tried carves out narrative space in the gaps of our lives, the moments we don’t often get to see, and the result is deliriously good, substantial in the best way, characters both broken and earnest, a reflection of the best and worst in ourselves.”—J. Aaron Sanders, author of Speakers Of The Dead

“Everybody in Todd Robert Petersen’s edgy linked collection hopes their luck will hold. Every choice they make is the right one...for ten minutes. These stories start out easily, and a wildness creeps into each one. One character says, ‘No one starts out thinking they are going to jail.’ These stories brim with folks who think there is almost enough distance between towns to consider new lives. Almost. It Needs to Look Like We Tried is a smart book about what people choose and what inevitably claims them.” —Ron Carlson, author of The Signal and A Kind of Flying

Todd Robert Petersen ​lives in Cedar City, Utah with his wife and three children. He is a Professor of English and the director of Southern Utah University’s project-based learning program. His recent academic work focuses on film and television.

Photo by Carrie Brown Stroud

Brian Evenson is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press 2016) and the novella The Warren ( 2016). He has also recently published Windeye (Coffee House Press 2012) and Immobility (Tor 2012), both of which were finalists for a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the American Library Association's award for Best Horror Novel of 2009. His novel The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection), Dark Property, and Altmann's Tongue. He has translated work by Christian Gailly, Jean Frémon, Claro, Jacques Jouet, Eric Chevillard, Antoine Volodine, Manuela Draeger, and David B. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes as well as an NEA fellowship. His work has been translated into French, Italian, Greek Spanish, Japanese, Persian, and Slovenian. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Critical Studies Program at CalArts.

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