Visiting Writer: Professor Josh Emmons

entertainment-visiting-writerProfessor Josh Emmons com­menced the Visiting Writer series last Wednesday in Wilson Hall Au­ditorium. Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Stanton Green, senior Jennifer van Alstyne and As­sistant Dean Michael Thomas in­troduced Emmons with nothing but positivity and praise.

Dr. Staton Green began his in­troduction by reminding members of the audience that, “most of the things we enjoy are due to good writing” and how important the ele­ment of writing has become at the University.

“Part of the tradition of the Vis­iting Writers series is to start with someone connected to Monmouth,” explained Thomas. Emmons was initially hired to develop the cre­ative writing program at the Univer­sity and because he was nationally recognized as an author, Emmons was asked to be the first speaker of the year.

Emmons’ second novel, Pre­scription for a Superior Existence, proved to be a hot topic for introduc­tion.

Dr. Staton Green said, “I mar­vel at the use of language and was hooked on the story.” Excerpts and quotes were read from the book and each introducer explained why they thought it was such a fascinating piece of literature.

Van Alstyne confessed that she read the book three times and ex­plained, “It’s about sex, love and murder. How things evolve is what makes this story.”

Prescription for a Superior Exis­tence is about a character named Jack Smith who leads a somewhat mean­ingless corporate life until he gets sucked into a cult that preaches about the end of Earth through self-destruc­tion. The book made its way into the Sunday Book Review of The New York Times in 2008 and GoodReads calls it “A thrilling and timely novel about a flawed, ordinary man who is torn between love and the appeal of a powerfully seductive cult.”

Emmons also read an excerpt from his forthcoming story “Nu” followed by the first two chapters of his up­coming novel that remains nameless. The piece from “Nu” touched on the issue of underwater oil drilling and related to certain aspects of ancient Egyptian beliefs.

The two chapters, called “Day One” and “Day Two,” from Em­mons untitled novel set the scene for a couple who have their share of life’s hardships and are looking for a break.

“One of his subjects addresses questions of our future and specific details of our interaction in romantic relationships,” said Thomas.

In response to a question about his sense of structure, Emmons stated that he tends to thread together mul­tiple story lines in his writing.

In addition, when it came to his creative process, he explained that he tries to draw on his life as much as he can but that “you have a lot of license when you have a clearly crazy char­acter.” After addressing a few more questions Emmons thanked the audi­ence and held a book signing outside of Wilson Hall Auditorium.

One audience member was sur­prised by her personal relationship to the excerpt from “Nu” and men­tioned that she was apart of the ef­forts made by Food and Water Watch against deep drilling for natural gas. She frequently attends the Visiting Writers series but this one just hap­pened to connect with her on a per­sonal level.

Tess LaFera, a student and an as­piring writer who attended the read­ing looking for a spark, said, “It was a different kind of inspiration. I thought it was a good reading and I enjoyed it.”

The next Visiting Writer is Indian Poet, Meena Alexander, on October 16 in Wilson Hall Auditorium. For more on the Visiting Writers series check out the Center for the Arts page on the University website at www.monmouth.edu/arts

IMAGE TAKEN from strandbooks.com