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Image by: Julian Goldberger  

A Conversation with Dean Bakopoulos

From: National Endowment for the Arts
Series: Art Works Podcast
Length: 30:40

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Dean Bakopoulos discusses his first novel about fathers and sons in middle America's working class. [30:40]

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Born and raised in greater Detroit, Dean Bakopoulos easily navigates the worlds of fiction and journalism. Currently a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University, Dean has lectured at Michigan, Cornell, and other universities about the economic and environmental problems facing the post-industrial Rust Belt.  He has published related essays and criticism in many publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Believer. 

He is equally successful in translating these concerns into fiction. His first novel, Please Don't Come Back From The Moon received critical acclaim and was named a New York Times notable book. In Please Don't Come Back From The Moon, Dean Bakopoulos delivers a piece of fiction that looks at the day-to-day struggles of the working class with an eye that combines a  grittily realism with moments of  sheer  magic. Dean paints a vivid picture of a working class Michigan neighborhood where one-by-one the men disappear. When sixteen-year-old Michael's father joins the exodus and Mike and his friends stumble through their adolescence and adulthood unable to leave the neighborhood their fathers long abandoned. I spoke with Dean Bakopoulos recently and about Please Don't Come Back From The Moon. I began our conversation by asking him to tell me about his protagonist Michael.

Piece Description

Born and raised in greater Detroit, Dean Bakopoulos easily navigates the worlds of fiction and journalism. Currently a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University, Dean has lectured at Michigan, Cornell, and other universities about the economic and environmental problems facing the post-industrial Rust Belt.  He has published related essays and criticism in many publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Believer. 

He is equally successful in translating these concerns into fiction. His first novel, Please Don't Come Back From The Moon received critical acclaim and was named a New York Times notable book. In Please Don't Come Back From The Moon, Dean Bakopoulos delivers a piece of fiction that looks at the day-to-day struggles of the working class with an eye that combines a  grittily realism with moments of  sheer  magic. Dean paints a vivid picture of a working class Michigan neighborhood where one-by-one the men disappear. When sixteen-year-old Michael's father joins the exodus and Mike and his friends stumble through their adolescence and adulthood unable to leave the neighborhood their fathers long abandoned. I spoke with Dean Bakopoulos recently and about Please Don't Come Back From The Moon. I began our conversation by asking him to tell me about his protagonist Michael.

Transcript

Transcript of conversation with Dean Bakopoulos

Up and under Sun Kil Moon's "Gentle Moon"

It's set in the community of Maple Rock, Michigan, which is just outside of Detroit, and it's the story of the aftermath of an inexplicable event, and that event is in this tight-knit working class community a group of fathers disappears in- over the course of one summer without much of an explanation, only sort of vague references to the moon. They tell people they're leaving and they're going to the moon. Some of them slip out without telling anybody and some people sort of use that excuse on their way out of town and so it's the story of what happens to the town after this mass exodus of fathers.

That's writer and 2006 NEA literature fellow Dean Bakopoulos talking about the premise of his haunting first novel, Please Don't Come Back From The Moon.

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Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Gentle Moon Sun Kil Moon The Ghosts of the Great Highway. Jet Set Records :00
Darkness on the Edge of Town Bruce Springsteen Live at WamFest 2010. 2010 :00

Related Website

http://www.arts.gov/artworks/?p=13672