Alta Live: Author Terry McDonell in conversation with Will Hearst

Wednesday, April 12, at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time

alta live author terry mcdonell in conversation with will hearst

A noted magazine editor, an acclaimed author, and a cofounder of the website Literary Hub, Terry McDonell, as Alta Journal editor and publisher Will Hearst argues in Alta’s Issue 23, is a seminal voice of West Coast literature. Longtime friends and colleagues, the pair sit down for a conversation on McDonell’s new memoir, Irma, a deeply personal examination of the author’s relationship with and the life of his mother. Join Alta Live, McDonell, and Hearst as we talk books, moms, magazines, and memories.


About the guest:

Terry McDonell is the author of the 1980 comic gold rush novel California Bloodstock, which is still in print, and most recently a cofounder of the website Literary Hub.

About the book:

As a child, Terry McDonell imagined epic stories about his father, a fighter pilot who died in World War II. But, as he discovers in his dazzling memoir, the real hero in his life was his mother, Irma, who moved with him to California hoping for a new life and raised him through difficult times.

Like most headstrong boys growing up in midcentury America, McDonell took his mother for granted, never giving her life much thought. He was bright, cocky, and determined to make his own way, separate from her and from his complicated roots. But as he matured, built a career, married, divorced, remarried, and raised his own sons, McDonell came to see that Irma had lived her life in a way that allowed him to discover what he wanted his own life to be. The person he was would be forever tied to Irma’s courage and wisdom and love. From his recollections—a series of colorful, personal, sometimes funny, stunningly composed vignettes—an intriguing and poignant portrait emerges.

Irma is the story of a formidable woman who built the life she wanted as she raised her son to be the kind of man and father he had longed for but never knew.


About the moderator:

Will Hearst is the editor and publisher of Alta Journal, which he founded in 2017. He is the board chair of Hearst, one of the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies. Hearst is a grandson of company founder William Randolph Hearst.•

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