REACHING OUT - SPRING 2013
New York State Writers Institute Writer-in-Residence James Lasdun will conduct a writing workshop on memoir and the personal essay during the spring 2013 semester. Personal encounters, whether with landscapes, cities, objects, animals, other people, or for that matter any facet of life outside one’s immediate circumstances, have long provided fertile ground for writers of imaginative non-fiction. Science and technology have also lent themselves to this versatile form, and writers with an interest in these subjects are strongly encouraged to apply. The workshop will focus on detailed discussion of students’ work, which will be supplemented with readings from authors ranging from Oliver Sacks to Joan Didion, Elizabeth Bishop to V. S. Naipaul. Participants will be expected to be strongly self-motivated and to submit two works of up to twenty pages each over the course of the semester.
The workshop is scheduled for eight Thursday nights (March 28, April 4, 11, 18, 25, May 2, 9, 16) from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition, individual student conferences will be scheduled. The class will take place on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. This workshop is offered for non-credit, free of charge for non-University students. Enrollment will be limited to ten to twelve students. To be considered, submit manuscripts to the Writers Institute according to the guidelines listed below. Due to the volume of manuscripts received from previous workshops, we must insist that you follow the guidelines exactly.
Guidelines for Memoir and the Personal Essay Workshop
New York State Writers Institute Fellow James Lasdun will conduct a workshop in spring 2013 for writers interested in all aspects of fiction. The focus will be on detailed discussion of students' work but there will also be readings from published novels, novellas, and short stories. These will range from the classic to the contemporary—Tolstoy to Jhumpa Lahiri—and will be selected with a view to broadening the discussion of topics such as character, plot, style and form, as they arise. Participants will be expected to be strongly self-motivated and to submit two works of up to twenty pages each over the course of the semester. These may be short stories or excerpts from longer works.
The workshop is scheduled for eight Wednesday nights (March 27, April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15) from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition, individual student conferences will be scheduled. The class will take place on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. This workshop is offered for non-credit, free of charge for non-University students. Enrollment will be limited to ten to twelve students. To be considered, submit manuscripts to the Writers Institute according to the guidelines listed below. Due to the volume of manuscripts received from previous workshops, we must insist that you follow the guidelines exactly.
Guidelines for Workshop
Lasdun’s newest book, Give Me Everything You Have (2013), is a nonfiction account of his experience of being harassed and stalked (electronically) by a former writing student. Publishers Weekly named it a December 2012 “Pick of the Week,” and said, “This subtle, compassionate take on the subject is rife with insights into the current cyberculture’s cult of anonymity, as well as the power, failure, and magic of writing.”
Lasdun’s first novel, The Horned Man (2002), was a New York Times Notable Book and an Economist Best Book of the Year. Comic and terrifying at once, the novel tells the story of a professor persecuted by a secret enemy— or perhaps by his own paranoid delusions. The London Sunday Times called it an “enormously inventive, superbly written novel [that] puts more seasoned authors in the shade.” The Washington Post called it, “unputdownable… a masterpiece of chilling mesmerizing control.”
A political thriller, Lasdun’s second novel, Seven Lies (2005), tells the tale of a former East German who, by a series of blackly comic and dangerous maneuvers, attempts to invent a perfect life for himself in the United States. The Guardian reviewer called it, “a marvel — exciting, atmospheric and the best summation to date of what it felt like to grow up on the other side of the wall.”
Lasdun’s most recent story collection, It’s Beginning to Hurt (2009), was listed by The Atlantic Monthly as number four of its top five books of 2009. In sharply evoked settings that range from the wilds of Northern Greece to the beaches of Cape Cod, these intensely dramatic tales chart the metamorphoses of their characters as they fall prey to the full range of human passions. Lasdun’s short story, “An Anxious Man,” was the inaugural winner of the United Kingdom National Short Story Prize in 2006.
Lasdun first came to public attention with the publication of his story collection, The Silver Age (1985), published in the U.S. as Delirium Eclipse and Other Stories (1986), winner of the Dylan Thomas Award. The Washington Post Book World called Lasdun’s stories “the most auspicious first collection of stories to come out of England” since the mid-1970s. Lasdun is also the author of The Siege and Other Stories (1999). The title story of that collection provided the basis of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1998 film, Besieged.
Lasdun’s first poetry collection, A Jump Start (1988), received the Eric Gregory Award of the United Kingdom’s Society of Authors. His 2001 collection, Landscape with Chainsaw, was short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and the LA Times Book Prize. His most recent collection, Water Sessions (2012, published in the UK),was praised by the Guardian reviewer for its “fine psychological acuity and astringent beauty.”
Lasdun is also the author of two travel guides with his wife, Pia Davis, Walking and Eating in Provence (2008) and Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria (1997).
Lasdun’s screenwriting credits also deserve mention. With director Jonathan Nossiter, he shared the Screenwriting Award for Sunday at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival (Sunday also received the Grand Jury Prize). Again with director Jonathan Nossiter, Lasdun co-wrote the screenplay of Signs and Wonders (2002), starring Charlotte Rampling, an “emotional thriller” about an American living in Athens who falls in love again with his wife after having an affair with another woman.A Writing Fellow at the New York State Writers Institute, Lasdun has taught at a number of American universities, including the University at Albany, Columbia, Princeton, and The New School.