What's So Funny About Satire? A Discussion with author John Warner
Friday September 30, 7pm
John Warner will read from and discuss his newly released novel, The Funny Man, described by author Brock Clarke as, “A very American novel, in other words, a novel that reminds me of Walker Percy’s and Saul Bellow’s very American novels.” Simultaneously a satire and appreciation of American celebrity culture, it tells the story of The funny man, a middling comic in an unnamed city. By day he takes care of his infant son, by night he performs in small clubs, sandwiched between other aspiring comics. His wife waits tables to support the family. It doesn’t sound like much, but they’re happy, more or less. Until the day he comes up with it. His thing. His gimmick. And everything changes.
Actor and writer Ben "Jigsaw" Jones will be host and moderator for the event. As a special bonus, John has agreed to do a brief live performance of the "The Biblioracle." Give him the titles of the last five books you've read and he'll recommend your next one. Free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Want to learn about writing humor? Attend the seminar on Saturday, October 1: So You Want to Write Something Funny?
Writing Children's Picture Books with Meg Medina
Author Meg Medina shares her newest book "Tia Isa Wants a Car" and talks about incorporating her Latina heritage into the world of children's literature. Free and open to the public. Books available for purchase and signing.
Literary Salon, Sunday September 18, 2pm, with Danielle Evans
Danielle Evans is the author of the short story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. She recently won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize "To a fiction writer whose debut work, published in 2010, represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise." From the Booklist review of her collection: "Evans’ first collection of short stories deals thoughtfully and incisively with considerations of class, race, and coming-of-age." WriterHouse member Jocelyn Johnson was host and moderator for the event.
Evans addressed questions from the moderator and from the audience about the differences between writing short stories and novels (she's currently working on a novel), how she chose the title of the collection (It comes from The Bridge Poem by Donna Kate Rushin, originally published in the anthology This Bridge Called My Back), and whether teaching writing has helped with her own writing (not as much as you'd think--she comes up with brilliant gems of wisdom in class but they aren't necessarily easy to apply to her own work).
TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2011, 5:00 pm
An Impromptu Literary Salon with Eleanor Henderson
Ten Thousand Saints (HarperCollins 2011) author Eleanor Henderson dropped by on her way to a bookstore event to talk about the challenges of point of view in her just-released critically-acclaimed novel. Her initial instinct was to focus on the main character, a teen-aged boy, throughout the book. The resulting close third person coming-of-age narrative just wasn't big enough for the story she wanted to tell, so she rewrote the book, bringing in several other characters' points of view. By expanding to include the voices of some parents and other teens, she was able to make the story more relatable to a wider audience of readers and more universal than one boy's experiences. She talked about the distance of the narrative voice as being more important to point of view than which person it's written in. She even drew a diagram on the white board. This was a very interactive literary salon, with an engaged group of writers, interested just as much in the mechanics of a published work as the plot. Of course, she signed books for the attendees before she left.
The novel is set in the 1980s' straight-edge music scene, an underground youth culture powered by the paradoxical aggression of hardcore punk and a righteous intolerance for drugs, meat, and sex. A group of teenagers battle to discover themselves, their parents struggle with this new generation’s radical reinterpretation of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll and their grown-up awareness of nature and nurture, brotherhood and loss.
Ten Thousand Saints was the cover review in the New York Times Book Review. Read the review here.
Eleanor Henderson was born in Greece, grew up in Florida, and attended Middlebury College and the University of Virginia, where she received her MFA in 2005. Her fiction has appeared in Agni, North American Review, Ninth Letter, and Columbia, among other publications.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 7PM
How can authors with different aesthetics contribute to each other's work? Man Martin, author of Paradise Dogs (Thomas Dunne Books 2011), a picaresque farce set in a pre-Disney Florida hotdog restaurant, and Jamie Iredell, author of The Book of Freaks (Future Tense Books 2011), a prose poem faux encyclopedia, would not seem to have much in common. Yet they regularly read and critique each other's writing.
They discussed how writers can help each other, even if they're not writing the same genre. They also discussed the nature of humor and their philosophies of writing.
Friday, March 18, 10:00 a.m.
Novelists John McNally, Martha McPhee and Carolyn Parkhurst discussed the risks and rewards of novels in which the main character is a novelist. Is it a case of "write what you know" gone too far or are there particular insights available to a main character who is in the business of observing life? Free and open to the public.
John McNally is the author of the novels After the Workshop, America's Report Card, The Book of Ralph, and most recently, The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist.
Martha McPhee, author of Dear Money, is associate professor of English at Hofstra University in New York. She has written three other novels: L'America, Bright Angel Time, and Gorgeous Lies, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002.
Joseph Skibell's new book A Curable Romantic (Algonquin Books, 2010) begins in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century and travels with its protagonist, Dr. Sammelsohn, through Jewish European culture, accompanied by historical figures such as Sigmund Freud and L.L. Zamenhof (the inventor of Esperanto). Along the way, Sammelsohn is seduced by the ghost of his second wife, just one episode in a series of romantic failures.
Thursday, May 19, 2011, 7pm
Moondogs(Doubleday, 2011) author Alexander Yates discussed the pleasures and challenges of incorporating genre writing into literary fiction and the obstacles he faced while writing and publishing his mixed-genre debut novel.
Moondogsis a singularly effervescent novel about the disappearance of an American businessman in the Philippines and the estranged son, jilted lover, misguided felon and supernatural saviors who all want a piece of him.
Sunday, April 17, 7:00pm
Is every book with a young protagonist a YA book? How do authors navigate the boundary between young adult fiction and categories marketed to adults? Sarah Collins Honenberger, author of CATCHER, CAUGHT, and moderator Jocelyn Johnson discussed her crossover experience with "Catcher, Caught," an adult novel in which a teenaged protagonist who idolizes Holden Caulfield is dying of cancer.
On Saturday, February 12, at 2:30pm WriterHouse presented a group reading and signing by nine WriterHouse members. Authors: Lena Cantrell McNicholas, Elizabeth Tidwell, Linda Levokove, Sheila Dane, Greg Allen Morgoglione, Helen Williamson, Mary Alice Hostetter, Mathew Stowell, and John Thelin. The readings ranged from poetry to mystery to children's books and memoir. Three of the readers burst into song! This was the first of what we hope will be annual opportunities for members to showcase their work to the public.
On January 15, 2011, at 7:00pm, Warren Rochelle spoke about incorporating the personal and the mundane into his fantasy.
Elves, dragons, and wizards. Witches and wardrobes and talking lions. At first glance these commonplace elements of fantasy seem to have little or no connection to the world in which the fantasy writer and the fantasy reader live. How does one handle the intersections of the fantastic and the real? Warren Rochelle is the author of The Wild Boy, Harvest of Changelings, and most recently, The Called, the sequel to Harvest,
Thursday, December 2, 7:00pm
Jay Varner, author of the memoir Nothing Left to Burn (Algonquin Books 2010), talked about the pain, pleasure, and dangers of writing about family. His memoir is the story of a son’s relationship with his father, the fire chief and a local hero, and his grandfather, a serial arsonist.
Kristin Swenson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA and writes for Publishers Weekly, The Christian Century, Huffington Post, and Beliefnet, among others.
Dylan Landis's novel-in-stories was hailed by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout as a "wonderful, intriguing, and original debut," yet 17 publishers initially rejected it. On October 21, 2010, an eager audience gathered at WriterHouse to participate in a discussion of Normal People Don't Live Like This and Landis's challenging path to publication as a debut fiction author over the age of 50 in a difficult economy. Landis talked about the role of determination and faith while pursuing publication and discussed craft, including research, revision, and surviving rejection.
Dylan Landis has published fiction in Bomb, Tin House, Best American Nonrequired Reading and elsewhere, and has won a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and other awards. A former journalist, Landis covered medicine for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and interior design for the Chicago Tribune, and has written ten books on decorating and other subjects. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Jehanne Dubrow is married to an officer in the U.S. Navy and currently lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she is an assistant professor in creative writing and literature at Washington College. In her spare time, she teaches classes at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD.
Sunday, September 19, 2010, Fran Hawthorne, author of The Overloaded Liberal: Shopping, Investing, Parenting and Other Daily Dilemmas in an Age of Political Activism (Beacon Press, 2010), talked about about making the political personal. How do you mix research and expert opinion with your own perceptions? How do you tackle a serious topic (like saving the earth) and make it intimate enough to be an enjoyable read? What happens when you insert yourself as a character in a nonfiction book?
Hawthorne was introduced by WriterHouse member Sharon Harrigan. Listen to a portion of the presentation:
Hawthorne is a freelance reporter for the New York Times, Newsday, and The Scientist, with 20 years of journalism experience and four books to her credit.
Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, discussed the publication of her second novel, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, in a special event at WriterHouse on Sunday, August 22, 2010.
Bezellia Grove belongs to an important family in Nashville, but risks it all for a romantic relationship with the gardener's son in the complex racial environment of the south in the 1960's.
"Gilmore’s second novel...is a highly emotional story that vividly evokes a sense of place, the 1960s era, and the heady feelings of first love." --Booklist
Poet and WriterHouse poetry instructor Sam Witt read from works old and new on July 20, 2010 at WriterHouse.
Listen to his presentation:
SAM WITT is the author of two books of poetry, Everlasting Quail and Sunflower Brother. Witt holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, has traveled to Russia on a Fulbright scholarship, and has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Iowa, the New England Institute of Art, and Harvard University.
On May 28, 2010, novelist Martha McPhee joined an appreciative group for a brown-bag lunch literary salon, discussing the role of research in fiction, highlighting her foray into the world of mortgage-backed securities for her latest novel Dear Money. In this Pygmalion tale of a novelist turned bond trader, McPhee brings to life the greed and riotous wealth of New York during the heady days of the second gilded age.
MARTHA McPHEE is the author of the novels Dear Money, Bright Angel Time, Gorgeous Lies, and L’America. Her work has been honored with fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2002 she was nominated for a National Book Award.
Read her Business Week article about her Wall Street research.
On Tuesday, May 11, members, guests, and friends gathered at WriterHouse for the launch of WriterHouse instructor Meredith Cole's newest mystery: Dead in the Water.
Meredith won the St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic best traditional first mystery contest with her book Posed for Murder, published February 2009. Her short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and the anthology Murder New York Style. She is a member of both Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and currently serves on the board of MWA-MA. She teaches writing and lives in Charlottesville.