Author Juliet Patterson will discuss her memoir, Sinkhole—A Legacy of Suicide, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 18 at Pittsburg Public Library. Sinkhole deals with the legacy and inheritance of suicide in one American family, but also takes a deep look into Patterson’s roots in southeast Kansas.
Patterson’s memoir has been called “a sublimely elegant, fractured reckoning with the legacy and inheritance of suicide in one American family.” After her father’s suicide in 2009, Patterson kept trying to make sense of the loss, trying to understand why so many men in her family, including both grandfathers, had died that way.
In Pittsburg with her mother for her father’s funeral, Patterson learned about and soon began researching area abandoned mines, extensive undermining, and “sinkholes.” This historical research helped her imagine the final days of both of her grandfathers — one a fiery, pro-labor politician and the other a melancholy businessman.
“Sinkhole” looks not only at Patterson’s family history in Southeast Kansas, but at the unfolding story of immigration, coal mining, labor disputes, and commerce in the area. It layers personal, familial, political, and environmental histories to provide not answers, but “essential, heartbreaking truth.”
“Sinkhole” was a finalist for the 2023 Minnesota Book Award. It was named one of the best memoirs of 2022 by Library Journal.
Patterson’s appearance is part of Pittsburg State University’s week-long, second annual WritersFest, which aims to bring together published authors, the university, and community. Events begin Sunday, September 17 and continue through Friday, September 22. All events are free and open to the public.
Patterson’s appearances are co-sponsored by the Pittsburg State University Women’s Studies Lecture Series, Distinguished Visiting Writers Series, and the Student Fee Council.