SFR Picks

SFR Picks—Week of Jan. 10

Moving makes art work, IAIA welcomes a glut of authors, it’s sushi time and Petra Brown weaves all she surveys

Home Truths

Best-selling author Kate Christensen’s eighth novel grapples with existential questions

Acclaimed novelist Kate Christensen’s life has been “peripatetic,” she tells SFR, and it usually takes seven years of living somewhere before she can render it in fiction. In the case of her new novel, Christensen set Welcome Home, Stranger in Maine where she and her husband formerly lived for 10 years. But she was unable to finish the book until they relocated to Taos about two and a half years ago.

“The book wasn’t working,” she says. “I came here with a draft that I was beating my head against. I stripped it down to the studs and did another draft…I feel like coming to New Mexico absolutely allowed this book to breathe.”

Her new home, then, provided the environment for a novel very much about the concept of home. The story’s protagonist, Rachel Calloway, a Pulitzer-Prize winning science journalist, returns home to Portland, Maine, in the wake of her mother’s death, where she confronts painful memories, painful present-day logistics and painful future truths about the fate of the planet. The latter—Calloway’s professional preoccupation and personal grief regarding climate change—reflects Christensen’s own life-long awareness and concern about environmental devastation.

Silent Spring kind of kicked it off,” she says, referring to Rachel Carson’s seminal 1962 book about pesticides. “There was a lot of education in the schools…about pollution, about saving the whales, about…the fact that the planet was in danger. And this was 50 years ago.”

The novel, she says, “came out as a lifelong preoccupation that deepened in the darkness of the Trump years leading up to the pandemic.”

While the book tackles a variety of “existential” questions, it also showcases Christensen’s trademark wit and propulsive style. Author of the PEN-Faulkner-award winning novel The Great Man, Christensen also incorporates food—another lifelong preoccupation found in her fiction and two food-centered memoirs—into her latest book. Spoiler alert: There will be lobster rolls.

As for the cuisine of her new home, she’s a fan. And she’s hoping to have found a permanent home here: “I really want to settle here, put down roots and never leave and die here,” she says. Read SFR’s complete interview online and hear the author in person at Collected Works.

Welcome Home Stranger by Kate Christensen, reading and booksigning. 6 pm, Tuesday, Jan. 16, Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 202 Galisteo St. (and online via Zoom), (505) 988-4226

Receive Word

With the deadline to apply for The Institute of American Indian Arts’ Creative Writing low-residency MFA program swiftly approaching (Feb. 1), no time like now to check out the world-class authors associated with the program. The week-long in-person evening series continues through Friday, with eight more authors on the schedule, including MFACW program mentor and award-winning memoirist Pam Houston; New York Times best-selling author Leslie Jamison; and fiction writer Mona Susan Power (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), PEN/Hemingway prize winner for The Grass Dancer. Friday’s culminating reading and conversation features former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Kim Blaeser (White Earth Nation) and IAIA alumna Deborah Taffa (Quechan [Yuma] Nation and Laguna Pueblo). All events can also be viewed via livestream. (JG)

2024 MFACW January Evening Reading Series: 6:30 pm, Wed-Thurs, Jan. 10-11, IAIA CLE Commons, IAIA Campus, -83 Avan Nu Po Road, (505) 424-2300; Fri, Jan. 12, 4:30–-6 pm; IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, 108 Cathedral Place, (505) 428-5912; Online:


Local chef Brent Jung has been making a bit of a name for himself as the master of the sushi pop-up, and he keeps the thrill alive with his regular Tumbleroot jam this Thursday. Now, before anyone starts composing a sanctimonious rant about the freshness of fish or whatever, know two things: Just about all fish winds up frozen before it ever reaches consumers, and Jung sources his stuff from the boats themselves. That means overnight shipping for some of the freshest or at least most recently caught fish available in town. The menu rotates, the rolls are next-level and every last local foodie who thinks they invented dining out has a chance for something special. Let’s eat! (ADV)

Sushi Pop-Up with Chef Brent Jung: 5 pm, Thursday, Jan. 11. Free (but pay for the food, duh). Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery, 2791 Agua Fría St., (505) 303-3808

Woven Realities

Though Albuquerque-based multimedia artist Petra Brown says she loathed the length of her commute to a former year-long job in Santa Fe, it ultimately led to her first-ever solo show at No Name Cinema, Photos From My Neighborhood. It’s not what you’d expect, however. Rather than simply showcasing photos of details she’d observe on her walk to and from her Barelas neighborhood home in Albuquerque each day, Brown created woven pieces based on the pics she took over time. “I’d walk up and down Fourth Street and it was that golden hour...and I was just captivated by how beautiful the neighborhood is,” she says. “I definitely would have missed those details if I wasn’t walking up and down the street every day.” Rather than broad pieces based on specific buildings, however, Brown explores the interplay of shadows, broken windows and the multi-colored nature of stucco patchwork. “I think being a...fiber artist, it was a natural outcome,” she adds. “It was bound to happen.” (ADV)

Petra Brown: Photos From My Neighborhood: 6-8 pm, Friday, Jan. 12. Free. No Name Cinema, 2013 Piñon St.,

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