Montana Public Radio

On Writing And Survival: A Conversation With Kerri Arsenault

Jan 7, 2021

Kerri Arsenault's Mill Town is a book of narrative non-fiction, investigative memoir, and cultural criticism that illuminates the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxics and disease with the central question: Who or what are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?

About Kerri Arsenault

Kerri Arsenault is a book critic, book editor at Orion magazine, and a contributing editor at The Literary Hub. She is also a mentor for PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program. Her work has appeared in Freeman’s, the Boston Globe, Down East, the Paris Review Daily, the New York Review of Books, and Air Mail. Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains is her first book. Kerri received an MFA from the New School, and studied in the Master Programme in communication for development at Malmö University, Sweden. In Spring 2020 she was awarded, with UNM professor Aaron Cayer, a grant from Architectural League of NYC, which commissioned ten editorial teams to prepare reports on small to mid-size communities from across the United States and to consider economics; mobility; legacies of environmental, racial, class, and spatial injustice; politics; and the impacts of climate change.

Kerri recommends:

My Heart, by Semezdin Mehmedinović (Catapult)

The Hearing Trumpet, by Leonora Carrington (New York Review of Books)

Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate, by Daniel Mendelssohn (University of Virginia Press)

Austerlitz, by W. G. Sebald (Penguin Random House)

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions)

Sabbath’s Theater, by Phillip Roth (Vintage International)

Lauren recommends:

Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis, edited by Kathryn Mockler (Coach House Books)

Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, by Anne Helen Petersen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

House of Irving,” an 8-part investigative report, by Bruce Livesey (National Observer)

Remote: Finding Home in the Bitterroots, by DJ Lee (Oregon State University Press)