Robin Glynn – Staff Writer –
Faculty and students gathered in the common room in the English Department on Thursday night to hear authors Alice Mattison and David Galef share their recent work.
“Alice and David are two very accomplished and successful writers,” said Tim Parrish, English professor and coordinator of the Visiting Writers Series. “Both have published numerous collections of stories, novels, poetry and translated work.”
According to Parrish, Mattison’s latest novel, ‘When We Argued All Night,’ received a glowing review in the New York Times Book Review. Galef’s latest story collection, ‘My Date With Neanderthal Woman,’ won the Dzanc Press short-story collection prize.
Mattison and Galef’s readings are part of the English Department sharing published work of 12 authors with graduate and undergraduate students.
“Mattison and Galef will not only present work that is smart and entertaining,” said Parrish, “but they will also serve as role models and sources of inspiration for aspiring writers.”
According to Southern, Mattison has lived in New Haven for years and some of her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker. She also teaches fiction in the low-residency MFA program at Bennington College.
Galef’s awards include a Fulbright Fellowship, a Hendfield Foundation grant and a Writers Exchange Award from Poets and Writers. He is a English professor and the Creative by Writing program director at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
Galef began the night by reading three short stories, including a story titled “What Remains,” in which a woman’s husband died in a mid-air plane explosion. Mattison read an excerpt from “When We Argued All Night,” about two men at a lake and life during the Great Depression.
“I knew I wanted to write it for a long, long time,” said Mattison. “I kept writing other novels instead of it.”
Mattison said that novels are really hard, but “When We Argued All Night” was easier. Her novel takes places over a 68 year period.
“In a lot of ways, this one was easier than other novels that I have read and written,” said Mattison. “The chronology is straight forward. It just keeps going through the years until it gets to the end.”
Galef said that writing short stories is easier compared to writing a novel.
“There is always the problem of ‘what do I have to do next. I did that in a previous chapter’” said Galef.
Galef said that his collection are 32 short shorts and regular short stories that are all over the map.
“Caffeine has always been the writer’s friend,” said Galef. “I write best after shutting my eyes briefly then having a strong cup of coffee.”
Jillian DeGiacomo, an elementary education major, thought the event was interesting.
“I never been to one of these things before,” said DeGiacomo. “It was a very good impression. I like both of the authors. Their stories were different.”
According to Parrish, Mattison and Galef’s readings are important to SCSU.
“Students should know that SCSU has a strong community of graduate and undergraduate writers,” said Parrish, “And that the reading series is a way both to get involved and to enjoy work by nationally-acclaimed writers for free.”
Parrish said this semester the series will offer two more readings. On Oct. 30 at 8 p.m., novelist Elise Blackwell and poet and memoirist Randall Horton will read their work. Then on Nov. 15, two former students, Patricia Bjorklund and Sheila Squillante will give a talk at 4 p.m. on “Life After the MFA” and then read from their work at 8 p.m.