Katherine E. Standefer: Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life

Join us for a Crowdcast event with debut writer Katherine Standefer, discussing her acclaimed new book Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life. The life in question is her own. What if a lifesaving medical device causes loss of life along its supply chain? That's the question she finds herself asking one night after being suddenly shocked by her implanted cardiac defibrillator. Click HERE to read a wonderful review of the book in Kirkus. And click this link for our Crowdcast registration page! Your purchase of Lightning Flowers from The Book Stall will help insure that we can continue to offer free programing on a dizzying range of subjects from a host of talented writers.

About the Book: In this gripping, intimate memoir about health, illness, and the invisible reverberating effects of our medical system, Standefer recounts the astonishing true story of the rare diagnosis that upended her rugged life in the mountains of Wyoming and sent her tumbling into a fraught maze of cardiology units, dramatic surgeries, and slow, painful recoveries. As her life increasingly comes to revolve around the internal defibrillator freshly wired into her heart, she becomes consumed with questions about the supply chain that allows such an ostensibly miraculous device to exist. So she sets out to trace its materials back to their roots.

From the sterile labs of a medical device manufacturer in southern California to the tantalum and tin mines seized by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a nickel and cobalt mine carved out of endemic Madagascar jungle, Lightning Flowers takes us on a global reckoning with the social and environmental costs of a technology that promises to be lifesaving but is, in fact, much more complicated.

"In her stunning debut, Katherine E. Standefer reveals how a single piece of supposedly lifesaving machinery has forever implicated her in ruinous global supply chains, how entire economies of extraction have come to reside deep within her body. With great clarity and resilience, Lightning Flowers invites us to become intimate with the moral and environmental calculus of our own lives."-- Francisco CantĂș, author of The Line Becomes a River

About the Author: Katherine E. Standefer's debut book Lightning Flowers was shortlisted for the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Prize from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard. Her writing appeared in Best American Essays 2016. In 2018, Standefer was a Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good. She earned her MFA in Nonfiction at the University of Arizona and teaches for Ashland University's Low-Residency MFA. She writes from a juniper-studded mesa in New Mexico, where she lives with her chickens.

Event date: 

Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

Online Crowdcast event!
Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316450362
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Little, Brown Spark - November 10th, 2020

Lightning Flowers weighs the impact modern medical technology has had on the author's life against the social and environmental costs inevitably incurred by the mining that makes such innovation possible — “utterly spectacular.” (Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises)

What if a lifesaving medical device cau