November 14, 2010

Frequency North, November 11

This is the reading series of visiting writers to the College of St. Rose, in Albany, NY, organized by the frequently inappropriate Daniel Nester. In general these are well-published, young writers who are not yet on the New York Times Best Sellers list, but may be someday, in which case you can see them read again at the New York State Writers' Institute in however many years.

Kathleen Rooney is a poet, essayist & fiction writer. She impressed me right off the bat with taking pictures of the audience before beginning her reading; check out her website for the photos. She read an excerpt from an essay "However Measured or Far Away" (the phrase is from H.D. Thoreau) from her collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs. The essay is about a cousin becoming a nun, beginning with the author's pondering of her own inability to sit in solitude, then on to intersecting weaves of her cousin's life & the life of nun's in the order she was joining. Chatty, informal prose that was crisp, amusing without getting "cute."

Interestingly, Alexander Chee read selections from his forth-coming novel Queen of the Night, also about a woman in the service of (another type of) god, a servant girl for the Empress Eugénie in the second Empire in France. It is a lushly detailed historical novel told from the point of view of the servant who goes on to become an opera star. Such drama!

The series will continue in the Spring semester, so check out their website.

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