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Grodstein Saves. Perhaps.

Grodstein Saves. Perhaps.

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Director, Bluegrass Writers Studio

    Lauren Grodstein is comin' to town. I don’t think she’ll be bringing a bag of toys, but hopefully she’ll give us a peek into her bag of tricks. Writing tricks, that is.

      Her novel A Friend of the Family is intricately crafted. The narrator, Pete Dizinoff, relates a series of events and choices that led to his ruin. I’m not giving anything away here; he’s honest about that from page one. He gives the impression that he is going to tell his side of things accurately, including his harsh judgment of himself. Along the way, he mentions intriguing little pieces of the story that don’t fit with anything told so far. These flashes, after a while, start to seem like misfires in Dizinoff’s overtaxed head. Fifty pages might go by before he catches up with himself and the reader gets more of the picture.

     What’s most admirable, to me, is that the glitches in the narrative are completely the fault of the implied author, but not the author herself. I have no doubt Grodstein was in complete control of Dizinoff revealing his loss of it. This raises the question: how do you craft a character who’s coming unhinged, without coming unhinged?  I’m a nonfiction-writing poet. When realist poets write at length about inner turmoil, we end up cozied up beside a tailpipe or with our head in the oven. Fiction writers, historically, haven't fared well either. I think a fiction writer like Grodstein should share her secrets to sanity, for the sake of the literary canon to come, no?

     To find out if Grodstein can save future generations of writers, if I really have the nerve to ask her these questions, or just to be entertained, come for her reading and Q&A at Bluegrass Writers Studio’s Winter Residency on January 9th at the Triple Crown Room of the Lexington Downtown Hilton. She’ll go live at 5:30 – don’t risk missing it.

Contact Information

Kristen Thompson

Published on December 05, 2013

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