Starting this month, we are launching a monthly book club, sponsored by Squirrel Hill's Riverstone Books, dedicated to new and existing books by some of the city's established and emerging writers. To enhance the experience, City Paper will also host virtual discussions, livestreams, and other events in the weeks to come, concluding at the end of the month with a post collecting readers' reactions to the selected book.
So carve out some reading time, get ready to crack open a new story, and make sure to share your thoughts with us each month on Twitter and Instagram using #CPBookClub.
The City Paper Book Club selection for March 2022:
Certain and Impossible Events by Candace Jane Opper (Kore Press Institute, 2021)
City Paper first highlighted Certain and Impossible Events when it was chosen for NPR's 2021 Books We Love list. The fascinating memoir stems from Opper's adolescent obsession with the death of a male classmate by suicide in 1994, just a week before Nirvana frontman and music icon Kurt Cobain died under the same circumstances.
When discussing her motivations behind the book, Opper told CP that she was "really disappointed with the way my school and community dealt with his death — essentially not at all,” and wanted to explore that in her work.
“There's always been a lot of stigma and shame around suicide, and this was especially true where I grew up," says Opper. "My small town had no idea how to respond, so they were basically like, ‘He would have wanted us to move on,’ and continued on with business as usual. I thought that was disrespectful and honestly kind of bullshit. His actions were so extreme and violent and final; it did not feel like an event that could or should be just ignored."
NPR critic Ilana Masad called a “beautiful and tender memoir," and Sarah Marshall, host of the popular podcast You’re Wrong About, called it a "shoebox full of memories that you don’t know what to do with, lovingly and unsparingly curated into a museum of infatuation, grief, obsession, and hard-won wisdom."
Certain and Impossible Events is available for purchase online at Riverstone Bookstore, and copies are also available to borrow from local libraries.
City Paper Book Club is sponsored by Riverstone Books. 5825 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill and 8850 Covenant Ave., McCandless. riverstonebookstore.com