Author to sign books at Mabee

As any accused liar knows, memory is a problematic mechanism. While one may remember the broad strokes of an event, the minute details are obscured. One may remember a man’s blue shirt as green or a woman holding a pen in her right hand instead of her left.

Joseph Harrington, associate professor at the University of Kansas, explores these ideas in his forthcoming book, “Things Come On.”

Described as an “amneoir,” combing amnesia and memoir, Harrington comes to the Mabee Library on Feb. 22 for a reading at 3 p.m. with a discussion and signing to follow.

Sarah Smarsh, Washburn assistant professor who studied under Harrington as an undergraduate at KU, promises the reading to be personal, enlightening and informative.

“For me, as a nonfiction instructor, I’m excited to discuss this book with my nonfiction students because it raises a lot of interesting questions about how to structure a narrative,” said Smarsh. “This particular narrative is a collage of several different forms, including poetry, visuals and found snippets of language from both public and personal domains.”

Combining the personal and the general, Harrington relates one of the most traumatic moments in his own life to one of the darkest hours in American history.

“The theme of the book looks at the intersection between or parallels between, the public and the personal,” said Smarsh. “Joe’s mother’s battle with breast cancer overlaps or parallels, in some ways, to Joe’s mind, the Watergate scandal that was going on in the ‘70s.”

Having known Harrington for some time, Smarsh feels “Things Come On” is the zenith of Harrington’s phase as a writer.

“This book, to me, seems like this beautiful, perfect culmination of Joe as a poet, a nonfiction writer, a writer that defies genres and also is fascinated by the political even as he’s concerned with the most intimate private stories,” said Smarsh.