Ted Conover at the Aspen Institute
Aspen Journalism is hosting a public conversation and book signing with author Ted Conover on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 5 p.m. at the Aspen Meadows Campus Albright Pavilion.
Conover’s career in immersive journalism has taken him from a nuanced exploration of local culture for his 1991 title Whiteout: Lost in Aspen to a year-long stint as a prison guard resulting in Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. For his latest critically-acclaimed book released this earlier month, Cheap Land Colorado: Off-Gridders at America’s Edge, Conover returned to his home state, living off and on for four years in the San Luis Valley in an effort to better understand the divisions that have increasingly riven the American social and political consciousness.
The conversation at the Albright Pavilion with Aspen Journalism Editor and Executive Director Curtis Wackerle will center on a tale of two counties — Pitkin and Costilla in the San Luis Valley — geographically close but at seemingly opposite ends of the great American divide.
“I’ve come to see Costilla County as like a photo negative of Pitkin County,” Conover said. “I look forward to discussing my experience in both places, and what can be learned by comparing them to one another.”
Conover, who grew up in Denver, is the author of seven books, as well as a professor or journalism at New York University. Whiteout was the result of two years living in Aspen during which Conover worked as a taxi driver and reporter at The Aspen Times, informing his examination of the town’s mystique and contradictions, exploring how hype lives up to the reality.
“I feel lucky to do what I do,” Conover says on his website bio. “I write about real people, often by living their lives for a while — visiting their lives, you might say. Trying them on for size. Though there are easier ways to make a living, I suppose, none strike me as a fraction so interesting.”