FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2013
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“…two people walking toward each other on a sidewalk will, in their attempts to get out of each other’s way, naturally move in tandem, like dancers, until they collide.”
A Novel in Stories
Letitia L. Moffitt
As a marathon runner and fiction writer, Letitia L. Moffitt has a track record of thumbing her nose at adversity. She endured her first full marathon with a stress fracture, and finished her eighth marathon in the Cayman Islands taunted by an ever-present flock of roosters whose, “…cock-a-doodle-dos will forever sound like jeering to me given how they were witness to my agony,” as she recalls.
Moffitt’s elegant debut novel, Sidewalk Dancing (Atticus Books, November 12, 2013) is a skillfully woven study of endurance, too. In this case, a multi-ethnic family’s search for stamina and identity in a world of onlookers who are fast to classify and judge. From China to Hawaii, and New York City to Ireland, Moffitt channels periods of her own past to invent three unforgettable characters whose unusual heritage and individuality make for an entertaining family portrait because everything about each member is so inherently different.
Moffitt says she was never interested in writing autobiographical fiction until her mentor, Maxine Hong Kingston, suggested she write about her childhood.
“She [Kingston] was right, of course—it could hardly have been otherwise.
This [Sidewalk Dancing] was a book I needed to write,” says Moffitt.
In Hawaii lives the family: George McGee, the father, called “foolish” over and over again for his love of the exotic, for building an imaginative but misshapen house, for starting dreams that others have to finish. Grace, the sharp and hardworking mother, who left China for America and had trouble looking others in the eye long before there was a language barrier. And Miranda McGee, the daughter, who constantly refers to herself as a “mutt,” who is surprised at her ability to detach from her upbringing, who earnestly searches for the difference between living and merely existing. These characters find themselves alienated, both within the outer world and their own family, as they seek a universal language that could bring them together.
“That, to me, was our story. There were things hidden and unexplained between us and separately within us that could never be spoken in any language or written in a book. We always knew they were there, though, no matter how we might fail in delivering to each other what we wanted at the moment.”
– Miranda McGee, Sidewalk Dancing
With both humor and compassion, Moffitt enters and escapes the psyches of each family member. She compels readers to follow them as they move to the ends of the world where they know not a soul and then try to remember how they got there in the first place.
Letitia L. Moffitt was born and raised in Hawaii. She received a doctoral degree in English and Creative Writing from Binghamton University in New York, and she currently teaches creative writing as an associate professor at Eastern Illinois University. Her work—fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction—has been published in literary journals including PANK, HTMLGiant, Black Warrior Review, Aux Arc Review, Jabberwock Review, Coe Review, The MacGuffin, and Dos Passos Review.
Sidewalk Dancing by Letitia L. Moffitt / Atticus Books / November 12, 2013 / $14.95 / Fiction Trade Paperback Original / 978-0-9840405-9-9/ 158 pages
“Letitia is a great writer, one of those people you think, ‘Why don’t I know more about her?’ I discovered her work when I started teaching at EIU, and immediately loved the quiet elegance of her fiction … I love how her stories really build and build and draw you further into the worlds she creates.”
— ROXANE GAY, author of Ayiti
“Moffitt’s power lies in her ability to weave together two generations by telling the stories of first one and then the other and allowing the reader to see the connections between them. Ultimately, these ties unravel, and the generations become separate, the younger finally, painfully, severing itself from the older generation as we watch, as we are unable and unwilling to look away.”
— THE MISSOURI REVIEW