Thursday, September 4, 2008

A New Season, A New Style





The blog has been sleeping for a while, but now you'll see a variety of writeups in the weeks to come - references to our writing guests, evaluations of reading events, books that we're interested in, and more communication with our readers.

Here's a new run of postings relating to the Writers Institute's first guest of the season, Andre Dubus III, and the screening of the first film in our fall series: House of Sand in Fog.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No Protagonists. No Antagonists.
In December 2003, Canada’s National Post featured an interesting joint interview with Andre Dubus III and House of Sand and Fog director Vadim Perelman, who adapted the novel for the screen:

“Perelman and Dubus both insist there is no single correct interpretation of their collaborative work -- including their own. ‘Readers and audience members should know that it’s their right to explain this to us. I mean, just because I wrote the book and he made the movie doesn't mean we can't learn from what we've wrought,’ Dubus says.”

“This openness to meaning is rooted in Dubus’s writing, which by the author’s own account renders him little more than a conduit to record the independent actions of the characters he brings to life.”

“The author and director share a belief in the ambiguous nature of human beings that is reflected in their characters, who are simultaneously sympathetic and contemptible. ‘There’s not a protagonist or an antagonist. It’s like an anti-protagonist and a pro-antagonist,’ Dubus sums up.

“Perelman concurs: ‘There's nothing I hate more than villains -- or heroes, for that matter -- because there's no such thing. We have a bit of both in us.’

(Shannon Proudfoot, National Post, December 26, 2003).

Note: House of Sand and Fog will be screened Friday, September 12, 2008 at 7:30PM in Page Hall, on the University at Albany’s downtown campus, 135 Western Ave., Albany. Free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I Tend to Feel a Bit Naked
Andre Dubus III on writing (Catherine Tung, Granta, August 5, 2008):
“I write five days a week and have since I began writing in my early twenties, so I’m always working on something, though I have to say I don’t know if I’ve ever been ‘excited’ about anything I’ve worked on. The emotions for me are part hope, part dread, part anxiety that what I’m working on is shit, part hope again that I’m wrong and should just keep going no matter how I feel about it. What I’m saying is this: writing is work, and I learned a long time ago not to trust how I feel about what I’m working on. If I’m writing well, I tend to feel a bit naked, stupid, slightly inappropriate, nasty and wrong.”
http://www.granta.com/Online-Only/Interview-Andre-Dubus-III
Note: Novelist Andre Dubus III will visit the Writers Institute on Tuesday, September 16, 2008. He will hold an informal workshop at 4:15PM in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus, 1400 Washington Ave. He will also present a reading of new work, and offer a Q&A at 8PM in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. Free and open to the public.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Meditations from a Movable Chair
Readers are encouraged to revisit the remarkable life and work of short story writer and essayist, Andre Dubus (1936-1999), the father of novelist Andre Dubus III.

Here’s a Salon review of his final essay collection:

“Much of Meditations From a Movable Chair, including its title, is haunted by the accident in 1986 when Dubus, then 49, was struck by a car [while stopping to help a stranded motorist], costing him one leg and severely damaging the other. He is too honest and brave a writer to pretend that the accident did not change him in fundamental ways (just as his marriages and divorces and the births of his six children have also changed him) or that he did not suffer from self-pity and despair as well as excruciating physical pain while recovering from it. He consistently describes himself as ‘crippled,’ and despises the journalistic clich├ęs that are invariably hauled out to discuss the disabled: ‘To view human suffering as an abstraction, as a statement about how plucky we all are,’ he writes in ‘Song of Pity,’ ‘is to blow air through brass while the boys and girls march in parade off to war. Seeing the flesh as only a challenge to the spirit is as false as seeing the spirit as only a challenge to the flesh.’”

http://www.salon.com/books/sneaks/1998/06/02sneaks.html
Note: Novelist Andre Dubus III will visit the Writers Institute on Tuesday, September 16, 2008. He will hold an informal workshop at 4:15PM in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus, 1400 Washington Ave. He will also present a reading of new work, and offer a Q&A at 8PM in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. Free and open to the public.