Sunday’s activities began with a Lecture by Josip Novakovich called “Writing in English as a Second Language” which mostly consisted of him reading a published essay of his called “Writing in Tongues” about his early exposure to English through Christian studies, then through BBC and Voice of America, a simplified text of Greek mythology, and eventually studying in the U.S. It was quite interesting and although not immediately relevant to me personally, it’s valuable to consider his experience when writing about other cultures, or about characters who are living cross-culturally.
I missed a talk by M.M.M. Hayes of StoryQuarterly because I had a meeting with Anjali Singh of Houghton Mifflin, and it was useful to get her sense of the book market as my novel might relate to it. (The answer: maybe not. Kind of what I’ve been thinking.)
I attended a class in the afternoon with Sigrid Nunez which was in some ways similar to the Boswell class on Saturday. We did a close reading of a story called “Property” by James Lesdun, focusing on his use of repeated images and efficient characterizations in order to creat a resonant whole. (I heard that the McIlvoy class at the same time, on Time, was also quite good and I’m sorry I couldn’t be in two places at once. Alas.)
The afternoon reading was by novelist Peter Orner, a Fellow who has spent time in Namibia (the setting for the book) and by poet Toi Derricotte. Poet Ruth Stone was introduced, as she had come to hear Toi read.
Then there was a special talk by Peter Lewis and Ted Walsh about their experience first building a tree house for Peter’s writing studio and then writing and self-publishing a book about it. I was frankly more interested in the tree house than in the publishing journey, but it was still worth hearing.
The evening reading consisted of Fellow poet Thomas Heise and novelist Helen Schulman. Helen read from her novel A Day at the Beach, which is due out in 2007. She read a scene in which two main characters who live in TriBeca watch the 9/11 catastrophe unfold through their living room windows. It was tough to listen to and looked like it might have been tough for her to read.
And then there was the big Dance in the Barn. Music, drinking, and, um, dancing.