Library Author Series: Rebecca Rotert
Spend an evening at the library with the author of Last Night at the Blue Angel, an unforgettable tale about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have—a highly ambitious and stylish literary debut that is said to evoke 2017 featured Literary Sojourn author Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility.
It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is a city of uneasy tensions—segregation, sexual experimentation, free love, the Cold War—but it is also home to one of the country’s most vibrant jazz scenes. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has been poised on the brink of stardom for nearly ten years. Finally, her big break arrives—the cover of Look magazine. But success has come at enormous personal cost. Beautiful and magnetic, Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet extremely self-destructive woman whose charms are irresistible and dangerous for those around her. No one knows this better than Sophia, her clever ten-year-old daughter.
For Sophia, Naomi is the center of her universe. As the only child of a single, unconventional mother, growing up in an adult world, Sophia has seen things beyond her years and her understanding. Unsettled by her uncertain home life, she harbors the terrible fear that the world could end at any moment, and compulsively keeps a running list of practical objects she will need to reinvent once nuclear catastrophe strikes. Her one constant is Jim, the photographer who is her best friend, surrogate father, and protector. But Jim is deeply in love with Naomi—a situation that adds to Sophia’s anxiety.
Told from the alternating perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, their powerful and wrenching story unfolds in layers, revealing Sophia’s struggle for her mother’s love with Naomi’s desperate journey to stardom and the colorful cadre of close friends who shaped her along the way.
“One of the most evocative renderings of a child’s precocity and appreciativeness in the face of a mother’s distracted self-absorption—and how it actually feels to be in thrall to someone else’s happiness—since Mona Simpson’s Anywhere But Here.”
— past Literary Sojourn featured author & master of ceremonies Jim Shepard
The Library Book Club hosts a book discussion of Last Night at the Blue Angel at 5:30 p.m., before the start of Rebecca Rotert's Library Author Series talk! Sign up and join the conversation, led by the author herself!
About the author
Rebecca Rotert received her MA from Hollins College in Virginia where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Santa Clara Review, America magazine, Hospital Drive Journal of Literature and Humanities, Temenos Journal, Les Femmes Folle, Spark Wheel Press and Gibraltar Press. She has written for Outside-In magazine, Health Progress and the New York Times. The essay, "Proteus on the Vasa" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her novel, Last Night at the Blue Angel, received an award from the Friends of American Writers, won the Nebraska Book Award and was longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Award. Rotert is a teaching artist with the Nebraska Writers Collective and she lives in Omaha, NE with her husband, physician and writer Bud Shaw.
This community talk is free.
About the Library Author Series
Bud Werner Memorial Library presents an ongoing program of author talks throughout the year. These are free community events held in Library Hall, where a diverse award-winning range of visiting authors speak about their literary works and their writing processes. Each talk is followed by a Q&A and an opportunity to have authors sign copies of their books.
Books will be available for sale and author signing courtesy of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.