Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clarion Reading

Last night was the first of the Clarion Reading Series at the University Bookstore, in which each week's instructor at Clarion West reads from his or her work . John Kessel read from a story that will appear in Gardner Dozois's anthology THE NEW SPACE OPERA 2. John, usually a literary writer, said he had always wanted to write at least one SF story of the kind he enjoyed as a kid, "full of battles and heroes and derring-do." So he did. The story was great fun, and when it was finished, I'm sure there's not one of us in the audience who didn't want a secret nine-dimensional pouch with a fold-up soldier of our very own. Afterwards some of us had dinner at a Greek restaurant. Here are (left to right) John Kessel, playwright Jeanne Beckwith, and Ted Chiang:

As a sidelight, the reading illustrated a common problem writers have: What if you want to read a piece too long for the allotted time? John's solution was to edit ahead of time, marking those places he would read verbatim and those places he would summarize ("And then a bunch of exciting stuff happens"). For very long pieces, this may be the only way to go. I'll consider it the next time I want to read "The Erdmann Nexus" or "Act One" in public.


Unknown said...

John Kessel is a pretty good reader of his own stuff.

However, after his intro where he warned us this was a crazy guy who heard voices, I was hoping for a little crazier voices. But maybe I'm biased by living across the street from a paranoid schizophrenic who hears some really strange voices.

Andy Duncan said...

That's exactly what I do when I want to read the beginning, middle and end of a story that's too long to read in its entirety. Sometimes my reading "script" of a story is much different from the published version, so extensively have I edited it. Maybe I learned this from Kessel, come to think of it; that's where I learned most everything else. -- Andy

Nancy Kress said...

Hi, Andy! But I thought you'd learned stuff at Clarion from ME... :)