Lightning Flowers: A Conversation about Illness, Health and Healing with Katherine Standefer & Thomas Mira y Lopez
Katherine will be in conversation with Thomas Mira y Lopez, author of The Book of Resting Places: A Personal History of Where We Lay the Dead on Thursday, March 11th at 7 p.m.
This is a virtual event with a zoom link
After collapsing suddenly one afternoon in 2009, Katherine E. Standefer was diagnosed with long QT syndrome, a rare and dangerous genetic heart condition. Uninsured and faced with terrifying symptoms and the lifealtering side effects of managing her condition with beta-blockers, she moved from Wyoming to Colorado, where a surgeon offered to perform the surgery free of charge if she became a resident, and had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (or ICD) placed inside her chest. If it worked, the ICD would monitor her heart and, if it fell out of rhythm, shock it with up to eight hundred volts of electricity to restart it. But when it malfunctioned and shocked her by accident, she realized that living with the device wouldn’t be as simple as it had seemed.
In LIGHTNING FLOWERS: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life (Little, Brown, 2020), Standefer explores the complicated ties between medical technology, the lives it saves, and the human and environmental costs involved in creating it. Part searing memoir, part captivating journalistic investigation, LIGHTNING FLOWERS traces her ICD’s supply chain backward—from the California factories where it was manufactured to the mines of Madagascar where the metals inside it were extracted from fragile ecosystems—raising profound questions about whether or not the benefits of such devices outweigh the global costs. Do lives saved outweigh the lives lost? Communities lost? Habitats clear-cut?
LIghtning Flowers was an Editor's Pick in the New York Times Book Review and has been featured in People Magazine, The Oprah Magazine, NPR's Fresh Air and The goop Podcast.
Thomas Mira Y Lopez is the author of The Book of Resting Places: A Personal History of Where We Lay the Dead. His work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review Online, and The Normal School among others. He holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Arizona and was the 2017-2018 Kenan Visiting Writer at UNC-Chapel Hill and a 2015-2016 Olive B. O'Connor Fellow at Colgate University.
Thomas is an editor of Territory, a literary project about maps and other strange objects, and a fiction editor at DIAGRAM. HIs work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review Online, and The Normal School among others. Originally from New York, Mira y Lopez lives and teaches in Cleveland.