- This event has passed.
- May 24, 2021
- Event Category:
- Author Events
presenting Night Rooms: Essays and White Magic
Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series welcomes acclaimed writers GINA NUTT and ELISSA WASHUTA for a discussion of their new essay collections, Night Rooms and White Magic.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing copies of Night Rooms and White Magic on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About Night Rooms
“In a horror movie, an infected character may hide a bite or rash, an urge, an unwellness. She might withdraw or act out, or behave as if nothing is the matter, nothing has happened. Any course of action opposite saying how she feels suggests suffering privately is preferable to the anticipated betrayal of being cast out.”
Night Rooms is a poetic, intimate collection of personal essays that weaves together fragmented images from horror films and cultural tropes to meditate on anxiety and depression, suicide, body image, identity, grief, and survival.
Whether competing in shopping mall beauty pageants, reflecting on childhood monsters and ballet lessons, or recounting dark cultural ephemera while facing grief and authenticity in the digital age, Gina Nutt’s shifting style echoes the sub-genres that Night Rooms highlights—spirit-haunted slow burns, possession tales, slashers, and revenge films with a feminist bent.
Refracting life through the lens of horror films, Night Rooms masterfully leaps between reality and movies, past and present—because the “final girl’s” story is ultimately a survival story told another way.
About White Magic
Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, “starter witch kits” of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning.
In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life—Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham—to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.
Praise for Night Rooms
“Gina Nutt’s Night Rooms is a startling collection of 18 essays ruminating on life experiences, cultural tropes and horror films, examining questions of gender, fear and grief. Fragmented in form, but firmly interconnected, these essays refuse to look away. Nutt’s prose is lyrical, provocative, intimate and intelligent. . . Together, these pieces form an experience that is sensory, intellectual and emotional, illuminating difficult and even uncomfortable truths.” —Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness
“Night Rooms is vulnerable, cinematic, and positively transcendent. Gina Nutt uses themes and details from horror films as a way into a meditation on the deaths she’s experienced in her own life, acting as a kind of literary final girl, asking, what does it mean to survive? Nutt’s exploration of this question is captivating to read, as her chainsaw-sharp sentences carve a path toward the truth. I love this book.” —Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I’m Someone Else
Praise for White Magic
“White magic, red magic, Stevie Nicks magic—this is Elissa Washuta magic, which is a spell carved from a life, written in blood, and sealed in an honesty I can hardly fathom.” —Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians
“Elissa Washuta is exactly the writer we need right now: as funny as she is formidable a thinker, as thoughtful as she is inventive—her scrutiny is a fearless tool, every subject whittled to its truest form.” —Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood