A three-day series of readings by emerging writers, many with ties to the Capital Region. All events take place on the University at Albany uptown campus and are free and open to the public.
April 26 (Tuesday), 8 p.m., Campus Center 375 Ben Jones, author of the first novel "The Rope Eater" and Lucia Nevai, short story writer and author of the first novel "Seriously"
April 27 (Wednesday), 4:15 p.m., Campus Center 375 Hollis Seamon, author of the new novel "Flesh," and her son
Tobias Seamon, author of the first novel "The Magician's Study"
April 27 (Wednesday), 8 p.m., Campus Center 375 Thai Jones, author of the memoir "A Radical Line"
April 28 (Thursday), 4:15 p.m. Seminar & 8 p.m. Reading both Assembly Hall, Campus Center Edward Schwarzschild, author of the first novel "Responsible Men" and Hannah Tinti, author of the short story collection "Animal Crackers"
Ben Jones is the author of the first novel, "The Rope Eater" (2004), an Arctic adventure tale set during the period of the American Civil War. The book was named one of the Top Ten First Novels of 2004 by the American Library Association/Booklist. It also made NPR reviewer Alan Cheuse's 2004 Summer Reading List, featured on "All Things Considered."
Writing in the "Washington Post," Patrick Anderson said, "Ben Jones's extraordinary first novel is a gripping Arctic adventure that is transformed by his dazzling prose into something much more...It deserves to be one of the most admired novels of the new year."
The son of Outward Bound instructors based in Vermont, the thirty-something author grew up in a family devoted to outdoor adventure. A former editor for the Adventure Library, which publishes classic tales of exploration and discovery, he recently served as Director of Admissions at Bennington College, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.
Lucia Nevai's new first novel is "Seriously" (2004), the comic story of Tamara Johanssen, a woman who escapes a troubled past to seek serenity in a small Upstate New York hamlet, where she opens an art gallery. In short order, Tamara becomes entangled in the lives of various smalltown eccentrics. In a "New York Times" review, Mark Kamine said, "Nevai delivers pleasures both large and small in sly, lively prose…. Nevai's voice has wisdom and charm, and with 'Seriously' she announces a large talent."
Nevai is the author of two collections of stories, "Star Game" (1987), winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, and "Normal" (1997). Born and raised in Iowa and currently a resident of Averill Park, Nevai has published short fiction in the "New Yorker," "Zoetrope," the "Iowa Review," "New England Review," "Glimmer Train," "Atlantic Unbound," and other periodicals.
Hollis Seamon's first novel, "Flesh" (2004), marks the return of Suzanne LaFleshe, a character who first appeared in Seamon's short story collection "Body Work" (2000). Weaving folklore into the character's lives, "Flesh" uncovers body and spirit in a comedic thriller that investigates a mysterious murder committed on the UAlbany campus.
"Body Work: Stories" (2000), Seamon's first publication, captures the substance of women's lives from the mundane to the magical. "Publishers Weekly" praised the collection, saying, "With precise prose alternately chatty and subtly resonant, Seamon delves into female adolescence, body issues, sexuality, relationships between mothers and daughters, and other themes, often keenly revealing the magical, uncanny and symbolic meanings in everyday life."
Hollis Seamon has published stories in literary journals such as, "Fiction International," "Calyx," "The Hudson Review," and "The Chicago Review." Her work has also appeared in many anthologies, including "The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe and Other Stories of Women and Fatness" (The Feminist Press of CUNY, 2003) and "Food and Other Enemies: Stories of Consuming Desire" (Essex Press, 2000). Seamon's stories have been recommended in "Best American Essays" and "Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards" (1998).
Tobias Seamon, Hollis Seamon's son, has followed his mother's lead. "The Magician's Study: A Guided Tour of the Life, Times, and Memorabilia of Robert 'The Great' Rouncival" (2004), Tobias Seamon's debut novel, follows Jazz Age magician Robert Rouncival in a tragic comedy revealed through the contents of his study. "Booklist" called the book an "ingenious first novel" and praised the writing saying, "Seamon's stylistic inventiveness and skill with memorable characterizations are nothing short of breathtaking. Rouncival and his colorful entourage herald the arrival of a major new talent." "Metroland" praised Seamon's "great descriptive powers" and called "The Magician's Study" "a wonderful book and a terrific read."
In 2002, Tobias Seamon was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and in 2003 was a finalist for the Erskine J. Poetry Prize. He is a co-editor of "Whalelane," an online journal of the arts and is a contributing writer with "The Morning News," a Web-based magazine.
Hollis and Tobias Seamon have lived in the Hudson Valley for more than thirty years and continue to be active contributors in the area's literary scene.
With journalistic style, Thai Jones investigates three generations of social activism and radical politics in his family in his debut publication, "A Radical Line: From the Labor Movement to the Weather Underground, One Family's Century of Conscience" (2004). "Booklist" reviewer Vanessa Bush described the book as "a thoughtful and compelling portrait of radical politics as lived by one family and as experienced by the nation as a whole. This is part family memoir and part historical record of the metamorphosis of radical movements in America." Ranging from his grandfather's pacifism during World War II and grandmother's fight to end segregation in the 1950s, to his parent's progressive activism throughout the 60s and 70s, Jones provides a dynamic and intimate account of how one family responded to national and world events of their time.
Thai Jones is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University's School of Journalism. He has worked as a reporter for "Newsday."
Edward Schwarzschild's first novel is "Responsible Men" (2005), the story of Max Wolinsky, a 40-year-old con artist from a family of upstanding salesmen. Max returns from Florida to his hometown of Philadelphia to attend his son's bar mitzvah and to put the finishing touches on a lucrative scam selling nonexistent real estate. But coming home means coming to terms with the expectations of his family: his aging father Caleb, his stroke-impaired uncle Abe, and his son Nathan.
In a starred entry, "Kirkus Reviews" said, "From a complicated business deal to a teenager's first kiss, Schwarzschild works with the quiet authority of a master. This is one terrific debut." The "Booklist" reviewer said, "Schwarzschild's accomplished, no-nonsense prose captures one family's attempt at responsibility and reconciliation on the dingy, desperate Philly streets."
Schwarzschild, who teaches in the UAlbany English Department, is a former Helen Deutsch Fellow in Creative Writing at Boston University and a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has published articles, reviews and fiction in the "Virginia Quarterly Review," "Southwest Review," "StoryQuarterly," "Moment Magazine," and "The Yale Journal of Criticism."
Hannah Tinti's debut story collection, "Animal Crackers" (2004), presents eleven inventive stories about relationships between animals and people. In a starred review, "Publisher's Weekly" praised Tinti's "highly original, sometimes gorgeous stories…." "It is a joy to encounter a new short-story writer with the bite and sparkling freshness of Hannah Tinti," said Jane Ciabattari in the "Los Angeles Times," "Her first collection… is a most promising effort, with remarkable range and inventiveness and a deliciously deadpan sense of humor." The collection received the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award.
"One Story Magazine," which Tinti co-founded with Maribeth Batcha, is an unusual success story in the field of little magazines. Containing only one carefully chosen story per issue, the five-by-seven-inch magazine has well over two thousand subscribers, appears 18 times each year, and was the subject of an admiring "New York Times" profile in March 2004.