Harper’s Magazine and The Mark Twain House & Museum present: The Index of Self-Destructive Acts

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May 4, 2021 • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Harper’s Magazine and The Mark Twain House & Museum are partnering to spotlight the best in smart new fiction! Harper’s Editor Christopher Beha sits down with The New York Times and Commonweal Magazine writer and novelist Rand Richards Cooper to discuss Beha’s acclaimed novel, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts.

  • A New York Times Editors’ Choice
  • Longlisted for the National Book Award
  • Finalist for the Gotham Book Prize
  • A Best Book of the Year at Kirkus, The Christian Science Monitor, Library Journal, and BuzzFeed

Sam Waxworth’s first assignment for the Interviewer is a profile of disgraced political columnist Frank Doyle. When Sam meets Frank at Citi Field for the Mets’ home opener, he finds himself unexpectedly ushered into Doyle’s crumbling family empire. Kit, the matriarch, lost her investment bank to the financial crisis; Eddie, their son, hasn’t been the same since his second combat tour in Iraq; Eddie’s best friend from childhood, the fantastically successful hedge funder Justin Price, is starting to see cracks in his spotless public image. And then there’s Frank’s daughter, Margo, with whom Sam becomes involved—just as his wife, Lucy, arrives from Wisconsin. While their lives seem inextricable, none of them know how close they are to losing everything, including each other.

Sweeping in scope yet meticulous in its construction, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts is a remarkable family portrait and a masterful evocation of New York City and its institutions. Over the course of a single baseball season, Christopher Beha traces the passing of the torch from the old establishment to the new meritocracy, exploring how each generation’s failure helped land us where we are today. Whether or not the world is ending, Beha’s characters are all headed to apocalypses of their own making.


Christopher Beha is the editor of Harper’s Magazine. His most recent novel, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts, was nominated for the 2020 National Book Award.

Rand Richards Cooper reviews restaurants and writes a monthly column, “In Our Midst,” for Hartford Magazine. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’sGQ, Esquire, The Atlantic, and many other magazines. A longtime Contributing Editor at Bon Appétit and a former restaurant critic for The New York Times, Rand is also the author of two works of fiction. He lives with his family in Hartford, Connecticut.

This virtual program is free to attend.  REGISTER HERE!

Signed copies of The Index of Self-Destructive Acts will be available for purchase through the Mark Twain Store; proceeds benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. Books will be shipped after the event. We regret that we are NOT able to ship books outside the United States as it is cost-prohibitive to do so.


Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign and its Travelers Arts Impact Grant program, with major support from The Travelers Foundation. For more information call 860-247-0998 or visit marktwainhouse.org


May 4, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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