Friday, November 5, 2010

Sena Jeter Naslund

Last week The Writers' Center brought in author Sena Jeter Naslund to speak on the topic of, "Structure, Style and Subject." I haven't read any of Naslund's books, (the most widely known is "Ahab's Wife"), but I was excited to hear what she would have to say about structure and style. "Subject" is a fundamental aspect of writing and although it mildly piqued my interest to know why Naslund choose certain topics, I came to her lecture to learn about writing; I knew the real learning would come from a discussion of structure and style.

Naslund had a thoughtful way about her. She chose her words carefully and had obviously put thought into preparing her speech. Unfortunately, Naslund got so involved with each of the anecdotes that told of how she came to pick her novels' subjects, she ran out of time before she could delve much into the topic of style. And she didn't get a chance to broach the topic of structure at all (Well, to be completely honest, she might have touched upon it, as towards the end of her talk I nodded off, but that was mostly because I got bored with all the anecdotes.) Not only did Naslund cheat us out of a discussion of the topics of structure and style, but she also missed out on a chance to read from her new book, "Adam and Eve." ("Adam and Eve" was just reviewed in The New York Times, which reported that it was a bizarre, crazy, unbelievable riff on the original. How ironic that a writer so wild and loose on the page can be so controlled and overly-focused in person. I guess it just goes to show that just because someone can write compelling stories doesn't necessarily mean they can be compelling writing teachers.

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