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Walter Kirn, photo by Beowulf Sheehan 
Walter Kirn


NYS Writers Institute, March 25, 2014
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Walter Kirn, novelist, nonfiction author and National Correspondent for the New Republic, will present his new nonfiction book about his friendship with murderer and serial con artist Clark Rockefeller, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (2014), on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8 p.m. in Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

"I think a lot of what
writers do, especially nonfiction, is remain
alert to narrative
structure that life hands them. . . " (3:19)

Walter Kirn
is the author of the new nonfiction book Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (2014), about the author’s 15-year friendship with Clark Rockefeller, the serial con artist, child kidnapper, and murderer. Kirn first made Rockefeller’s acquaintanceship when he volunteered to deliver a crippled hunting dog from a shelter in his home state of Montana to the New York City apartment of Rockefeller, who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Over time, Kirn and Rockefeller became, in Kirn’s own words, “very good friends.”  Throughout the narrative, Kirn investigates how and why Rockefeller succeeded in fooling him: Why, as a writer of fiction, was he susceptible to the deception of a sinister fantasist whose crimes, Kirn learns, were based on books and movies? Currently serving a life sentence, Rockefeller was convicted of a 1985 “cold case” killing in 2009.

Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a MasqeradeIn a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “The parallels with Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley are not lost on Kirn, who spends as much time trying to understand how he and others fell under Rockefeller’s spell as he does relating the primary tale of the criminal himself. Kirn’s candor, ear for dialogue, and crisp prose make for a masterful true crime narrative that is impossible to put down.

The book deserves to become a classic.” In advance praise, novelist Amy Tan called it, “A Hitchcockian psychological thriller and one of the most honest and affecting memoirs I've read. It is superbly written, each sentence a wonder, each page deepening my appreciation of Kirn’s precise observation of human nature.”

Kirn is the National Correspondent for the New Republic, where he covers “politics and culture and their convergence.” Among other things, he has written recently about gun ownership, electronic surveillence, Edward Snowden, Anthony Weiner, and the shrinking scale of American war movies.

Kirn’s recent memoir, Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever (2009), tells the story of his unlikely (and often comic) journey from one of the lowest-ranked high schools in Minnesota to Princeton University. Oprah’s O. magazine said, “Tough, funny, and moving. . . . There’s a kind of joyous cackle behind [the book’s] colorful scenes, and a sadness, too, both finally giving way to a clean-edged wisdom that infiltrates his story as he leads us toward his moral awakening.”

Kirn is also the author of several novels, including Up in the Air (2001), and Thumbsucker (1999). The tale of a corporate down-sizing specialist, Up in the Air was adapted as an award-winning 2009 film directed by Jason Reitman, starring George Clooney and Vera Farmiga. Thumbsucker, the story of a teenager who can’t stop sucking his thumb, was adapted as an award-winning 2005 film starring Tilda Swinton, Vincent D’Onofrio and Keanu Reeves.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.