The Visiting Writer Series introduced its first installation for the spring semester by hosting creative nonfiction writer, Liz Moore, on Tuesday, Mar. 7 in Wilson Auditorium.
The event opened with two introductions; Michael Thomas, Associate Dean and Director of the Visiting Writers Series, who introduced assistant professor, Alex Gilvarry.
Gilvarry attended graduate school with Moore and suggested her to Thomas as a possible visiting writer. With little persuasion necessary, Thomas agreed to invite Moore to the University.
Moore currently has three published novels and has received high acclaim and recognition for the talent in these works. She is the winner of the Medici Book Club Prize and Philadelphia’s Athenaeum Literary Award, and her most recent novel, The Unseen World, which was published just this past year, was listed in “Best of 2016” lists by The New Yorker, the BBC, and multiple others.
The majority of the Visiting Writers Series has been poetry heavy; however, Moore is an acclaimed creative nonfiction/fiction writer. This is a different flavor for consistent Visiting Writers Series goers. Thomas stated, “We wanted to offer as much styles and genres of literature that appeal to our students and the kind of work they are doing at the undergraduate and the graduate level.”
Moore is a young writer who published her first work before she entered graduate school. According to Thomas her age is something that the predominately college student audience could connect with. He said, “Students can feel some connection with someone her age; she can be a great influence on our young writers, and women too.”
“She comes to a campus and she is very aware of her audience and I think students feel that. They know when a writer is connected the way she is,” he continued.
At the event, Moore read specifically from her most recent work, The Unseen World. Moore indulged the audience in the background of the inspiration for this novel. The novel, which focuses on a father-daughter relationship in 1980’s Boston, was very much a reflection of Moore’s own childhood.
The protagonist of the novel, Ada, a homeschooled teenager, has an interesting relationship with her father, David, a computer scientist. In the likeness of Moore’s own childhood, she shared that her father was also a scientist; however, he was not a computer scientist.
Moore spent time around her father’s colleagues and claimed that she was fascinated by the “particular ethos and humor they had.” This translated into The Unseen World heavily with the character of David and his co-workers in the novel.
Moore then continued to read directly from the novel. She explained that she took one thread or theme of the novel and took portions of it from different areas sections to explain to the audience. The particular thread she chose to exhibit for the Visiting Writers Series was the theme of Ada’s entrance into the teenage world after a prolonged lack of exposure to anything but homeschooling.
According to Moore, The Unseen World delves into a world of advancing technology, adolescent curiosity, and enigmatic tendencies. One notion that most critics comment on in Moore’s work is her character development.
Gilvarry said, “When you read her books you can really tell that she cares for people through the way she writes her characters. She is really generous and loving with her characters and they are very well rounded and living, breathing people.”
“Her novels are about people at some of the hardest points in their lives, but there is a bit of hope in each story. They are not escapist fiction—it’s realism,” Gilvarry continued.
The audience is able to relate to many of Moore’s characters, even if this was their first time listening to any of Moore’s works. Katryna Cordova, a senior English student, commented, “The novel definitely seems like something I’ve never read before, and after today I’m thoroughly interested in reading it.” These connections that the audience makes with readers of the Visiting Writers Series are what the events are all about.
Jesi Halprin, a senior English student, said, “I think Monmouth’s Visiting Writers Series is a really amazing event that give us students the opportunity to meet and converse with authors that we otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to do. Personally, as an English major with a creative writing concentration, I find that these events always have me leaving with a new understanding of the craft.”
Thomas said, “It only takes that one reading to really change a young writer’s life where they hear from a poet or fiction writer that they are completely changed by.”
The next installation of the event will be on April 4 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Auditorium. Monmouth will be welcoming writer of eight novels, including The Master and Brooklyn, Colm Toibin.
PHOTO COURTESY of Tina Colella