Friday, February 8, 2008

Mary Gaitskill Set To Appear At Chester College

Fiction writer Mary Gaitskill will be visiting the Chester College campus at the end of this month. She will be leading a workshop in the Advanced Fiction class on Thursday, February 28 and will be reading from her own work on Friday, February 29 at 6 PM.

Gaitskill has released two collections of short stores, Bad Behavior and Because They Wanted To, and two novels, Two Girls, Fat and Thin and Veronica. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction in 2002 and her most recent novel, Veronica, was nominated for the National Book Award in 2005. She is currently an associate professor of English at Syracuse University in New York.

COMPASS ROSE interviews Mary Gaitskill

Compass Rose:
Some specific images tend to recur in separate work, such as the ceramic poodle in "The Secretary" and "A Romantic Weekend." Are you trying to create your own modern-day iconography, and if so, how does this process work?

Mary Gaitskill:
I am not trying to create iconography.

Where do you see the line between tackling controversial issues and sensationalism? What advice would you give to someone who wants to tread that line?

I would advise that "someone" forget about "tackling controversial issues" and/or sensationalism. What is "controversial" is subjective and often fabricated. As for sensationalism, that term has always seemed crude to me in relation to art. People experience the world at least partially through their senses, and much of our intelligence is sensate; the strongest fiction is usually weighted with such puzzling, ambiguous intelligence. Critics seem to use the term "sensational" negatively for work that is blunt and very vivid, but life is often remarkably blunt and very, very vivid. I see nothing wrong with portraying it as such. However when people are going through life they rarely, if ever, think that what they are experiencing is "controversial." A real writer, in portraying a character, doesn't think that way either. Leave it to a reader to find it "controversial" or not. (more)

Compass Rose - Original Post

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