Let it not be said that author Hillary Jordan shuns controversy. For her second novel, When She Woke, Jordan opted to reinterpret Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter by setting it in the near-future. Jordan also updated the "crime" committed by the heroine, here named Hannah Payne; rather than adultery, Payne's been found guilty of murder -- because she had an abortion. Payne's skin is genetically altered to be red so everyone knows what she did, and to be certain she's well and truly punished, her every move is broadcast into homes everywhere, as reality TV mutates beyond punishment for the viewer into punishment for the subject. So that's a literary classic retold, abortion and America's fascination with sham morality, all wrapped up in a novel that's just strange enough to have the ring of truth. Jordan reads from and discusses When She Woke at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com). Admission is free.
Mon., Nov. 28, 2011