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‘Defenestrate’: Falling for novelist Renée Branum

Renée Branum
Renée Branum

This week during The Write Question, Lauren chats with Renée Branum, author of Defenestrate (Bloomsbury Publishing), a story of familial alienation and grief, of one family’s long-told lore and tightly-guarded love—told in a series of vignettes, or short chapters. Through the eyes of Marta, twin sister to Nick, Defenestrate is the fragmented history of a family curse—of inevitable defenestration—as well as fictional and factual, historical, biblical, and mythical meditations on falling (Buster Keaton’s pratfalls; falling in love; falling from an airplane, becoming legend, etc.). Defenestrate is a witty, beautifully-crafted debut that centers storytelling—how we tell stories, and why.

About Renée:

Renée Branum’s stories and essays have appeared in several publications including The Georgia Review, Narrative Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Lit Hub. Her story “As the Sparks Fly Upward” was included in Best American Nonrequired Reading’s 2019 anthology. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Montana and an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts 2020 Prose Fellowship to aid in the completion of her first novel, Defenestrate. She currently lives in Cincinnati where she is pursuing a PhD in Fiction Writing.

Renée Branum recommends:

The short stories of Alice Munro

The poetry of Joanna Klink

The stand-up comedy of Tom Segura, Nate Bargatze, Kyle Kinane, Tig Nataro, Maria Bamford, and Morgan Murphy

The fiction of Bohumil Hrabal (start with Too Loud a Solitude, Harpervia)

Why Did I Ever? by Mary Robison

Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell (Counterpoint Press)

The poetry of Dylan Thomas

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (HarperCollins)

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, and Other Stories by William H. Gass (New York Review of Books)

Lauren Korn recommends:

My Own Personal Herakles” by Renée Branum (LitHub)

This episode of Radiolab about falling

Float by Anne Carson (Alfred A. Knopf)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Vintage Books)

The fiction of Roberto Bolaño

The Write Question team is Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Peter Hoag, co-producer and editor; and Tom Berich, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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