May 18, 2020

An Afternoon with the Author Elisa Albert, May 14

Since 2014 the Albany Public Library Foundation (now the Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library) have named & honored one or more Literary Legends each year. Last year I had the great thrill & honored to be named a Literary Legend, along with poet Lyn Lifshin & novelist Peter Golden. This year the FFAPL has named fiction writer Elisa Albert as the 2020 Literary Legend. The celebration has traditionally included a “Meet the Author” event in the Spring & a grand fund-raising Gala in the Fall. But since 2020 is also “the Year of Covid-19” things are a little bit different.

On May 14 FFAPL held a stay-at-home online version of the Meet the Author event, with a reading & talk by Elisa Albert, in conversation with her friend & former student, local author, Jay Deitcher. Elisa is originally from Los Angeles but now lives in Albany, teaches at the College of St. Rose & is a Visiting Writer at Bennington College. Her most recently published novel is After Birth (2015), with 3 others previously, & a string of short stories & non-fiction, & she has been working on a new novel. The whole megillah is on her website here.

It was a lively discussion, mostly with Jay, about the importance of the non-writing community in her life, on her “soft spot” for Hudson, but also “a lot of unfulfilled potential” in Albany, on her novel Afterbirth (one of the main characters is not based on the late Maggie Estep), on her constant grappling with what it means to be Jewish, on the need for mentors/elders in her life (or, as Elisa called them, “lighthouses”).

She went on to read the beginning of a story published by The Literary Review as a chapbook titled Assholes, about a relationship (with a baby in it, again), & as you would expect from the title, a shit-load of profanities.

It was a pleasant literary afternoon, one in which I could enjoy my happy hour drink while “in the Library,” so to speak. I’m looking forward to meeting in person our new Literary Legend, Elisa Albert, & celebrating with her, her friends & colleagues, & others who make up our rich literary community at the Gala in the Fall.

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