Friday, March 28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
"I love it when I start a book that is so good that all I want to do is get back to my own writing, in a competitive way. Really good reading accelerates and feeds the writing for me...."
Julia Glass, National Book Award Winner who visits us on Thursday April 3 is profiled this month in the Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2014/03/22/new-england-writers-work-julia-glass/3Al0XhLxpMM4ggBfXNtoIN/story.html
More about her upcoming visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/glass_julia14.html
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Yes, you read that correctly....
"The wheels have begun moving on Amtrak’s plan to offer writers a rolling residency aboard their trains. On Monday the company announced that up to 24 writers, chosen from a pool of applicants, will be given a round-trip ticket on a long-distance train, including a private sleeper-car room with a bed, a desk, and electrical outlets. The trains promise the romance. The writers will have to do the rest."
More in the New York Times: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/now-boarding-amtrak-writers-residency/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
Dinaw Mengestu, who visited us on March 13 to present his new novel All Our Names, landed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review this past Sunday.
Malcolm Jones writes: "The victories in this beautiful novel are hard fought and hard won, but won they are, and they are durable."
More in the NY Times Book Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/books/review/all-our-names-by-dinaw-mengestu.html?_r=0
More about Mengestu's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/mengestu_dinaw14.html
Monday, March 24, 2014
Elizabeth Floyd Mair interviews Walter Kirn (who visits tomorrow) in the Times Union:
Q: You write in your book a lot about the idea that you "collaborated" with Rockefeller in your own con.
A: Right. When he told me something that didn't add up, or when he seemed to be bragging in a way that didn't seem credible, I would excuse him, I would make up stories to myself about why he might be doing it.
More in the TU: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Secret-identity-5335678.php
More about Kirn's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/programpages/vws.html
Picture: Con artist, murderer and kidnapper "Clark Rockefeller" at his 2008 arraignment in Boston for kidnapping.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Walter Kirn, who visits the Institute on Tuesday, 3/25, presents a comic and self-deprecating, but incisive profile of himself in Wednesday's New York Times.
"Mr. Kirn’s prickliness and flashes of arrogance seem to disguise a basic insecurity that may explain why he longed for the approval of a con man posing as a blue blood."
More in the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/books/walter-kirn-interviews-himself-on-blood-will-out.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
More about Kirn's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/kirn_walter14.html
Walter Kirn, who visits Albany next week (!), talks with Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell about his friendship with con artist and murderer Clark Rockefeller, today on CBS This Morning:
Kirn will be featured again on 48 Hours this Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT
See Walter Kirn LIVE this coming Tuesday at UAlbany:
Walter Kirn, journalist, and fiction and nonfiction writer
March 25 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
Walter Kirn is the author of the new nonfiction book Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (2014), about the author’s 10-year “friendship” with Clark Rockefeller, the serial con artist and murderer. Currently serving a life sentence, Rockefeller was convicted of a 1985 killing in 2009. Kirn is the National Correspondent for the New Republic, where he covers “politics and culture and their convergence.” His books include the memoirs, My Mother’s Bible (2013) and Lost in the Meritocracy (2009), and the novels, Up in the Air (2001), and Thumbsucker (1999) that were made into major films. (See Classic Film Series schedule March 7 listing for screening of UP IN THE AIR)
More about Kirn: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/kirn_walter14.html
Grayce Susan Burian, Actor, author and theatre professor
April 1st (Tuesday)
Booking signing — 3:00 p.m., Science Library Room 340
UAlbany Uptown Campus
More about Grayce Burian: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/burian_grayce14.html
Thursday, March 20, 2014
David Sloan Wilson, evolutionary biologist who participated in our "God vs. Science" debate in April 2007 with Pulitzer winning science journalist Natalie Angier, will speak at the Capital Region Theological Center, April 25 and 26, 2014.
More about the upcoming event: http://crtc.org/civicrm/event/info?id=478&reset=1
More about God vs. Science in 2007: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/angier_n_wilson.html
George Saunders, bestselling short story writer who visited us in February 2013, has won the prestigious Folio Prize in England.
Full press release here: http://www.thefolioprize.com/2014/03/george-saunders-wins-the-folio-prize/
More about his visit here: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/saunders_george13.html
National Book Award winner Julia Glass, who visits us on Thursday, April 3rd, picks her favorite underrated children's books in Entertainment Weekly.
Here are two out of ten:
Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton: “For the precocious science nerd, page past the can-do life lesson of Burton’s Mike Mulligan to Life Story, a proscenium-stage drama that travels through time from the birth of the sun to human existence the way it looked about fifty years ago.”
Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel: (Pictured) “Frog and Toad can laugh at the Caldecotts; they’ve been on Broadway. Equally enchanting among Arnold Lobel’s characters, however, is Uncle Elephant, a perfect novel in miniature.”
More in EW: http://shelf-life.ew.com/2014/03/17/julia-glass-criminally-underrated-books/
More about Julia's upcoming visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/glass_julia14.html
Here are some reviews for the rising bestseller Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn, who visits us this coming Tuesday, March 25th:
"A Top Ten Book of Winter 2014" --USA Today
"In this smart, real-life psychological thriller, the fake Rockefeller is a zombie Gatsby and Kirn the post-apocalyptic Fitzgerald." --Nina Burleigh, The New York Times Book Review
"One of the most honest, compelling and strangest books about the relationship between a writer and his subject ever penned by an American scribe…Each new revelation comes subtly, and each adds to the pathetic and creepy portrait of Clark Rockefeller as a vacuous manipulator…The ending of 'Blood Will Out' is at once deeply ambiguous and deeply satisfying. By then, Kirn has looked into the eyes of a cruel, empty man - and learned a lot about himself in the process." --Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
"Engrossing… A haunting, pained and terrifically engaging self-interrogation… That's what makes great memoirs - which this one is - so interesting...." --Charles Finch, Chicago Tribune
"Riveting and disturbing, Blood Will Out is a mélange of memoir, stranger-than-fiction crime reporting and cultural critique. The literary markers run the gamut from James Ellroy's My Dark Places, and Fyodor Doestoevsky's Crime and Punishment to Patricia Highsmith's Ripley trilogy and Strangers on a Train. Kirn's self-lacerating meditations on class, art, vanity, ambition, betrayal and delusion elevate the material beyond its pulpy core." --Larry Lebowitz, Miami Herald
"Fascinating…The story of Blood Will Out is one of cosmic ironies and jaw-dropping reversals….What makes Blood Will Out so absorbing is its teller more than its subject. Kirn's persona is captivating-funny, pissed off, highly literate, and self-searching. He's also an elegant, classic writer….Add the highly readable, intricately told Blood Will Out to the list of great books about the dizzying tensions of the writing life and the maddening difficulty of getting at the truth." --Amity Gaige, Slate
More about the upcoming events: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/kirn_walter14.html
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
April 7 (Monday)
Discussion — 7:30 p.m., [Note early start time] Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent, formerly with the New York Times, and a bestselling author of books on American foreign policy in Central America, Rwanda, Turkey, and Iran. His newest book is The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (2013), which recounts how the two powerful men helped to shape America’s zealously anti-Communist foreign policy in the 1950s.
The Washington Post reviewer called The Brothers, “a bracing, disturbing and serious study of the exercise of American global power.” The book was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the Atlantic and Kirkus Reviews.
Cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute; Women Against War; UAlbany’s History, Political Science, and Judaic Studies Departments, and Journalism Program; and UAlbany Peace Action.
For more about Stephen Kinzer: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/kinzer_stephen14.html
For more information, contact the NYS Writers Institute at 442-5620 or by email at email@example.com. You can also visit our blog at http://nyswiblog.blogspot.com/ or like us on Facebook.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Monday, March 17, 2014
Major American novelist Barbara Kingsolver visited the Writers Institute in the spring of 1992, and was also interviewed by the late Tom Smith, Institute Director, for the WAMC Book Show, April 16, 1992.
Picture: Kingsolver posing with locally grown leeks and asparagus in the San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 2, 2008, in an article on the locavore movement.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Picture: Stig Dagerman.
More about the award nomination:
More about the Celebration of Stig Dagerman in October 2013:
Thursday, March 13, 2014
"Maurice Walsh was born in Ballydonoghue on 2 May 1879. He was the third child of ten and the first son born to John Walsh, a local farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Buckley who lived in a three-roomed thatched farmhouse. John Walsh’s main interests were books and horses and he himself did little about the farm, preferring to have a hired man. The most famous of these was Paddy Bawn Enright, whose name was to be immortalised by Maurice Walsh in his story The Quiet Man (though the name was not used in the movie version). John Walsh passed on to his son not only a love of books but also legends and folk tales and the theory of place that were later to be a feature of many of Maurice’s books."
More about the Classic Film Series:
"Somewhere in the files of General Mills is a letter from the very-short-story writer Lydia Davis. In it, Davis, who is widely considered one of the most original minds in American fiction today, expresses dismay at the packaging of the frozen peas sold by the company’s subsidiary Cascadian Farm. The letter, like many things that Davis writes, had started out sincere and then turned weird. Details grew overly specific; a narrative, however spare, emerged. “The peas are a dull yellow green, more the color of pea soup than fresh peas and nothing like the actual color of your peas, which are a nice bright dark green,” she wrote. “We have compared your depiction of peas to that of the other frozen peas packages and yours is by far the least appealing. . . . We enjoy your peas and do not want your business to suffer. Please reconsider your art.” Rather than address her complaint, the company sent her a coupon for Green Giant."
More in the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/03/17/140317fa_fact_goodyear
Davis (who poses frequently with cats) speaks on Wednesday, April 16 at Rensselaer (RPI):
Lydia Davis, short story author and translator
April 16 (Wednesday)
Reading and McKinney Writing Contest Award Ceremony — 8:00 p.m., Biotech Auditorium, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy
Sponsored in conjunction with RPI’s Vollmer W. Fries Lecture and the 73rd McKinney Writing Contest and Reading
For directions see: http://www.rpi.edu/tour/index.html
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
McGinniss visited the Writers Institute at UAlbany in November 2007 to present his true crime book, Never Enough.
Obituary in the New York Times:
A remembrance in the New Yorker:
McGinniss also wrote the major nonfiction bestseller, The Selling of the President, 1968 (1969), a pioneering study of the role of marketing in Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign.
More about his visit to Albany: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/jmcginniss.html
Here's a photo of 2013 Tony Award-winning playwright Christopher Durang and Grayce Burian at
the 18th Annual Burian Lecture last night.
Durang cracked up the audience with (among other things) a reading of excerpts from a new parody of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Elizabeth Floyd Mair profiles Dinaw Mengestu (who visits us on Thursday) in the Times Union.
Q: How did the idea for this book come to you? Did you need to do any mapping out in advance of what would happen?
A: I began this novel while finishing my second book. It started off with a simple image/idea — a group of young friends on a college campus somewhere in Africa just after independence. I thought the story would remain there, and since I had no plan, or map for it, I had to work out the rest of the narrative slowly over the several years.
More in the Times Union: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/From-Africa-to-America-5294425.php
More about Mengestu's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/mengestu_dinaw14.html
Bill Buell of the Schenectady Gazette profiles Christopher Durang who visits UAlbany today:
As a young boy, Christopher Durang had no interest in short stories or novels. His passion was to write for the stage.
“When I was 8 I announced to my mother that I was going to write a play,” said Durang, whose latest work, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.
“Well, I kept on writing them and they kept on getting made. I always wrote plays, and I don’t quite know why. I think it might have been because my mother loved the theater and was always talking about it.”
More in the Gazette: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2014/mar/08/durang-wrote-stage-early-age-talk-ualbany-tonight/
More about Durang's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/durang_chris14.html
Picture: Durang accepting his 2013 Tony for "Best Play" at the Tony Award ceremonies.
From the Times Union:
The playwright Christopher Durang had an epiphany while making up new lyrics for a nursery rhyme in his 1983 play "Baby with the Bathwater."
"When I finished, I realized they were," he says, pausing, "nice I thought, 'Oh, that's oddly positive for me.'"
Durang, who's written comedies including "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You" (1979), "The Actor's Nightmare" and "Beyond Therapy" (both 1981), "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" (1985), "Laughing Wild" (1987) and "Betty's Summer Vacation" (1999), isn't known for nice. He's known for outrageous and absurd and biting, for sure, but nice? That surprised him.
More in the TU: http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/It-s-all-worked-out-quite-nicely-5294553.php#photo-5988188
More about Durang's visit today: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/durang_chris14.html
Friday, March 7, 2014
Christopher Durang, who visits us on Monday 3/10, is crowned "Poet Laureate of the Absurd" in a New York Observer review of his 2009 play, Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.
"It’s very good news that Christopher Durang, our Poet Laureate of the Absurd, has written a smashing new play. Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them at the Public Theater is a black farce that’s essentially about, well, torture, and a peculiar brand of American paranoia and bigotry—and I haven’t had such fun at the theater since the recent revival of Mr. Durang’s fable about his own dysfunctional childhood, The Marriage of Bette and Boo."
More in the Observer: http://observer.com/2009/04/im-tickled-by-torture-durang-deals-serious-comedy/
More about Durang's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/durang_chris14.html
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Day of show tickets: $8 general public , $6 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff
We'll be screening Up in the Air starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, on Friday night 3/7, 7:30 pm at Page Hall. The film received more than 70 award nominations, including a Golden Globe for "Best Screenplay."
The screening is intended to whet your appetite for a 3/25 visit with author Walter Kirn, who wrote the novel on which it is based.
More about our film series: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/programpages/cfs.html#up
A rave review of the film from Pete Travers of Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/up-in-the-air-20091214
More about Walter Kirn's upcoming visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/kirn_walter14.html
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Bill Kennedy's long friendship with E. L. Doctorow (who visited 2/27) is the subject of an article by Paul Grondahl in the Times Union:
"They are both in their 80s now, William Kennedy and E.L. Doctorow, two acclaimed American novelists whose literary friendship spans 50 years, three dozen books, a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, four National Book Critics Circle awards and a shelf of other prestigious fiction prizes between them."
"The two met in 1968 when Doctorow, an editor at The Dial Press, acquired Kennedy's first novel, The Ink Truck, a metaphysical tale loosely based on a 1964 newspaper strike at the Times Union, where Kennedy worked as a reporter...."
More in the TU: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/A-literary-friendship-spanning-five-decades-5289119.php
More about Doctorow's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/doctorow_el14.html
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Dinaw Mengestu’s deeply moving new novel, “All Our Names,” takes place in the early 1970s in two worlds that could not be farther apart: a quiet, semirural town named Laurel in the American Midwest, and Kampala, the capital of Uganda, where bright hopes of independence have given way to violence, corruption and brutal government crackdowns. The young African man who transits these two worlds is named Isaac — or at least that is the name on the passport he carries. He has arrived in Laurel with a one-year student visa and is introduced to a social worker named Helen, who is supposed to be “his chaperone into Middle America — his personal tour guide of our town’s shopping malls, grocery stores, banks and bureaucracies.”
More in the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/books/dinaw-mengestus-all-our-names-describes-unexpected-love.html?hpw&rref=books&_r=0
More about Mengestu's upcoming visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/mengestu_dinaw14.html
Gil King, graduate of Niskayuna High School, returned to his hometown on Monday to talk with high school students. King, who visited the Writers Institute in September 2013, received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, The Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, an elegantly written account of the future Supreme Court Justice’s role in defending four black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in Florida in 1949.
Bill Buell of the Schenectady Gazette reports:
[King] was thrilled that so many students seemed interested and excited by their interaction with a Pulitzer Prize winner.He conceded a similar situation probably wouldn’t have interested him when he was in high school.
“Yeah, I would have checked out mentally of something like this back then,” he said. “But everybody seemed to be paying attention and that was nice. They asked a lot of questions, and some were very passionate and I love that. I was shocked. I can’t believe how much time I let pass in high school without paying attention to anything.”
More in the Gazette: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2014/mar/04/0304_king/
More about King's visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/king_gilbert13.html
Monday, March 3, 2014
Book Signing, 3:00 p.m.
Science Library, Room 340, University at Albany uptown campus
Elizabeth Floyd Mair of the Times Union interviews Pierre Joris (who visits Wed. 3/5 for 3 events):
Q: You write poetry in English, which — astonishingly — is not your first language, and you advocate moving away from "the prison-house of the mother-tongue" toward the "other tongue," or the recognition that "all languages are foreign." Can you tell me about this?
A: By luck of birth I come from a multilingual culture: Letzeburgesch [Editor's note: Letzeburgesch is a Germanic dialect widely spoken in Luxembourg] was spoken at home and in the street, but education was in German and French, and in high school I added English and Spanish as "foreign" languages.
More about our Celebration of Pierre Joris this coming Wednesday: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/joris_pierre14.html