Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tomales Bay Workshops Faculty Readings

For the last two nights, we have enjoyed phenomenal readings by this year's Workshops faculty.

On Thursday night, Fenton Johnson read from his forthcoming two books. The first was a book he's calling Desire in Solitude about artists and writers who choose, in one way or another, the single life. The passages he read from this in-progress book shimmered with honesty and lyric spiritual and emotional insight. Johnson also read from his forthcoming novel, and the passage was a gripping scene in which the main character is led out into a field and shot in the name of crimes for which he has been reprimanded but had no trial. The scene moves beautifully from the present tense of the moment to the memories our "criminal" has of his past loves, and the mirror through which the reader passes back and forth between these two worlds is that of the geography of the place in Kentucky where the scene occurs, with its hills and meadows and rivers. It was a stunning scene.

We also enjoyed Robin Romm's reading of a story from her first book, The Mother Garden. She read a piece in which ghosts of deceased family members crash into the female narrator's physical room, flashing in and out of her mind but leaving corporeal traces of their visitations. The story is poignant and humorous as it moves from the narrator's "real" world to the perhaps more real world of her emotions, which appears in the form of the "Musical Interludes." Romm's performance of this story was just that--a true performance--and it took us into the strange and wonderful place of this narrator's life.

Greg Glazner rounded out Thursday evening with selections from his current project, a multi-genre novel called Zeno's Cure. Galzner read powerful sections in which the narrator, Len, recounts his struggles, in his adolescent years, against his father, who is controlling to the point of violence (Len and his brother receive whippings when they disobey or make "bad" choices). What makes Glazner's piece so energetic is the power of the language as the narrative swoops bewtween sonincally intense prose to imagistically associative lineated poetry. I can't wait to see this novel when it's done!

More on last night's readings to come!

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