Tacoma Public Library
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May 2014

Free booktalk and signing
Clair Gebben,
author of 
The Last of the Blacksmiths: A Novel
Wednesday, May 28 @ 7 pm.
Wheelock Library

The Last of the BlacksmithsLike many generations before her, author Claire Gebben had kept in contact with her German side of her family via letter writing. A few years ago, she received a fantastic surprise when her family in Freinsheim, Germany discovered old letters in their attic - letters, the earliest written in 1841, from German immigrants to Cleveland, OH. Who wrote these letters? Claire embarked on a quest to find out more, and in the process she became fascinated with the German immigrant experience.

Now, in THE LAST OF THE BLACKSMITHS: A Novel,Claire Gebben brings to life the moving story of Michael Harm a 19th Century blacksmith from the Bavarian Rhineland, who dares to follow his dreams of freedom and prosperity and travels from Germany to Cleveland, Ohio to pursue an artisan way of life.

Michael arrives in an America he can barely comprehend, confronting riots in New York, anti-immigrant bigotry in Cleveland, and his uncle, a cruel blacksmith master. Michael struggles through his indenture, inspired by rags-to-riches stories such as that of presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln. He receives his freedom dues just as war threatens to destroy the country he now calls home.

It is not the Civil War, but Cleveland's post-war Gilded Age, that forces Michael to face his greatest challenge-an accelerating machine age destined to wipe out his livelihood forever. Populated by characters both historical and invented, THE LAST OF THE BLACKSMITHS is a tale of the disruption and dispersal of an immigrant family, the twilight of the artisan crafts, and the efforts of each generation to shape its destiny. A consummate storyteller, Claire Gebben demonstrates a brilliant ability to imagine and recreate the past with historical vigor and beauty. 

Claire Gebben was born and raised on the southeast side of Cleveland. After earning her BA in Psychology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, she eventually settled with her husband in Seattle. She's worked as a newspaper columnist, newsletter editor, and ghostwriter, all the while raising a family and pursuing her first love of writing. In 2011, she earned an MFA in Creative Writing through the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island, WA. Her writing has appeared in Shark Reef, The Speculative Edge, Soundings Review, The Fine Line, and ColumbiaKIDS e-zine

 

Last Updated 23.05.2014