“It’s pure pleasure to enter the mind and heart of Holy Denver’s soulful, sympathetic protagonist, Elizabeth Zwelland. Throughout this unique story—in which the author skillfully blends the economic downturn, Beat poetics, and the Columbine High School shooting—I wanted to hug Elizabeth, have coffee with her, and cheer her on.”
A short story by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860—1904), originally published in 1885.
Kasey Jueds, author of Keeper and winner of the 2012 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
It’s 2009, the height of the economic crash, and thirty-six-year-old Elizabeth Zwelland has come down in the world. Due to fallout from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, she loses her prestigious Manhattan publishing job and is forced to move to Colorado, the home of her Beat-poet father. The only job Elizabeth can find is at an independent bookstore in downtown Denver, where she earns minimum wage and shelves the books she once edited.
Embittered by her many losses, Elizabeth becomes increasingly scornful of her coworkers and the bookstore’s customers. Her behavior leads to a shocking confrontation, which forces her on a deep emotional journey that includes entering the Columbine tragedy and the JonBenét Ramsey murder. Elizabeth’s awakening occurs not by following a particular religion, but by living through painful events and opening up to life in Denver—or Holy Denver, as Jack Kerouac christened the city in On the Road.