BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Literary Festival continues its 20th anniversary year with authors Kate Russo and Claire Lombardo participating in its next virtual Literary Cocktail Hour.
Russo's novel Super Host is the story of Bennett Driscoll, a Turner Prize–nominated artist who was once a rising star. Now, at age 55, his wife has left him, he hasn't sold a painting in two years, and he hasn't been reviewed in five. His gallery wants to stop selling his work, claiming they'll have more value retrospectively - when he's dead.
Left with a large West London home and no income, Driscoll is forced to move into his artist's studio in the back garden and rent out his house on the popular vacation rental site, AirBed.
As he paints and the finished canvases stack up in a spare room, he obsessively grooms his listing to achieve coveted “Super Host” status on the site. He is broke and lonely, a stranger in his own home, indecisive and stuck.
All that begins to change when three guests check in and unwittingly unlock the parts of Bennett he's forgotten for so long.
Lombardo's book, The Most Fun We Ever Had, explores the imperfect complexities of marriage, parenthood, sisterly bonds, and familial ties. When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that awaits them. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are in a state of unrest.
In the opening scene, Liza Sorenson, daughter number three, flirts with a groomsman at her sister's wedding.
“There's four of you?” he asked. “What's that like?”
Her response: “It's a vast hormonal hellscape. A marathon of instability and hair products.” This is, in the words of a headline of a book review from The New York Times, a “rich, engrossing family saga, spiked with sisterly malice.”
Kate Russo grew up in Maine but now divides her time between that state and the United Kingdom. She has a master's degree in painting from the Slade School of Fine Art and exhibits widely in the United States and England. Super Host is her first book.
Claire Lombardo describes herself as “a novelist, teacher, and Post-It enthusiast.” Her first book, The Most Fun We Ever Had was an instant New York Times bestseller and has been or will be translated into more than a dozen languages. The novel is being adapted for a TV series to be written by Lombardo and co-produced by Amy Adams and Laura Dern. A native of Illinois, she now lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with her dog, Renee.