Last night I attended a reading featuring Michael Steinberg (whose birthday it is today — happy birthday, Mike!), Joy Castro , and Mitali Perkins. The reading was part of the summer reading series taking place at Pine Manor College during the Solstice MFA Program’s summer residency.
If you know me personally, you know that I don’t attend many readings. Of course, readings are an important aspect of any writer’s repertoire (for marketing purposes and simply to share work with a wider audience). But I tend to support my colleagues by purchasing their books and promoting their work in other ways. I have always had a relatively short attention span; I’m a restless person. So sitting through lengthy readings tends to be difficult for me.
I am so glad I attended last night’s reading, however. Each reader was so different and powerful in his or her own way. Mike read an essay-in-progress that described how being asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in a college baseball game helped him move through some of the physical and emotional challenges of middle age. Mitali read a gripping chapter from one of her young adult novels, Bamboo People, during which a young boy in Burma is rounded up to be a child soldier. And Joy read some beautiful, lyrical background and descriptions from her new novel, Hell or High Water, and a beautifully-crafted essay about long-term married life that simply brought me to tears because of its truth and beauty. The piece is from her upcoming collection, Island of Bones.
The whole evening was a reminder of how different, yet equally interesting and absorbing, writing from different writers can be. We heard creative nonfiction, young adult fiction, and fiction/crime thriller writing and each sampling held our attention in its own unique way.
Dennis Lehane reads at Pine Manor tonight. For a full schedule of the readings going on there this week, visit this link.