Friday, August 25, 2006

Bread Loaf: Day 9 (Thursday)

A non-linear day. First up was a lecture: "A Literary Collage on Literary Collage" by David Shields, in which he argued--more or less--that the linear narrative was boring and that he preferred the collage form, fragmented narratives that are somehow more than the sum of the parts. He gave a number of examples that I'll come back to as I give the talk more thought.

Our workshop met and then after lunch I attended a talk by Patrick Donnelly on how to give a good reading of one's own work. It was well-presented material with a useful handout. Afterward I asked the speaker if he knew of the book Naked at the Podium which covers much of the same ground. He did not. When I get home I'll see how much overlap there really was.

Back to non-linearity: a class with Percival Everett on metafiction and bullshit. The main point here was to suggest that in writing novels there are no rules and that each time he sits down to write a novel he is re-inventing the form. Everett truly is, which is what makes his work exciting. And the class was fun.

The afternoon reading was by novelist Paul Lisicky and poet Linda Pastan. Pastan's work has been appearing everywhere lately and her reading was excellent. The work is meaningful but accessible. She has a new book coming out any day now . . .

After a picnic dinner we were entertained by a concert of gospel music (some familiar, some not) sung by Francois Clemmons, a participant in the conference and a well-known performer. It was wonderful.

And then came the Gilmore party. My housemates and I hosted a party on the lawn by our house in the woods. Although we all contributed, the bulk of the work was done by Jerry from New Orleans. Lots of folks came even though our blue grass band was uncable to be there; there was beer, a bonfire. Good times.

Oh, and Jim saw the moose again.

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