Beyond the page: Sophomores attend reading

Beard reads from

Cara Maines

Beard reads from "The Tenth of December," Saunders's latest collection of short stories.

Pete Bechtol, Staff Writer

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Literature came to life for sophomores in Brian Beard’s English II class when they attended George Saunders’ reading Jan. 27. Sponsored by the Inprint Reading Series, the event included an interview and book signing in addition to the reading itself.

“The purpose of the readings is for student to be in the presence of working writers,” Beard said. “A lot of excitement about the written word derives from coming into contact with fiction and poetry as living arts.”

About once a month, Inprint Houston presents nationally-renowned authors, who read segments of their short stories or novels in the Alley Theatre. Students in Beard’s class have had opportunities to attend readings featuring writers Chimamanda Adichie, Colum McCann, Edwidge Danticat and Daniel Woodrell.

“Inprint readings are fascinating,” sophomore Amy Dong said. “The ones I attended were good learning experiences in which I got to listen to new ideas with my friends.”

This time, short story writer George Saunders read “Victory Lap” from his book of short stories, “The Tenth of December.”

“You take on the character’s diction, neurosis and thought pattern, and the point is that you are supposed to be intimate and private with the character,” Saunders said.

“Victory Lap” is written from the third person ventriloquist perspective. The goal of this perspective is to provoke deeper thought in the reader.

“One of the strengths of “Victory Lap” is how closely Saunders inhabits the psyches of three very different characters by adapting their voice and diction,” Beard said.

Before attending the reading, Beard’s students read “The Semplica-Girl Diaries” and “Sticks,” two short stories by Saunders.

“Since the publication of ‘Tenth of December,’ Saunders has become something of a literary rock star,” Beard said. “Not many short fiction writers can so easily pack the Alley Theater.”

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