Renowned author Mary Gaitskill was at Chester College on Thursday, February 28, 2008, to participate in Chris Anderson’s Advanced Fiction workshop. Aside from the normal gaggle of students, the workshop was opened to the public and was attended by a dozen spectators.
Gaitskill opened the workshop with a speech on various aspects of writing. She began by asking the students what they like about literature and responding to their answers, from “dialogue” to “conflict.” She discussed in great detail the parallels of style and content, and how fiction must always have “reasons” for being the way it is. To illustrate her point she read selections from Flannery O’Conner’s Good Country People, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire.
After a short break, the workshop began. This workshop dealt with a piece of short fiction by student Marie Stern entitled “Confidence Men,” a story about two grifters, their thoughts and feelings on death, and how those thoughts and feelings affected their relationship with each other. A number of pertinent comments were made by Gaitskill, the students, and instructor, Chris Anderson.
After the workshop, Mary Gaitskill answered questions from the gathered gaggle. These questions ranged in subject from researching source material to the writing process to what it was like to experience a film adaptation of one of her works. The event was extremely successful.
Don’t forget, Gaitskill, along with student Kristen Koczarski, will be reading tonight in Powers 29 (the fireplace room) at 6:00pm. Gaitskill will be reading from an upcoming collection due to be released next year.