Posts Tagged ‘Carol Edgarian’

Novelist Carol Edgarian comes home to Stanford for Another Look’s Feb. 26 discussion of “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game.”

Thursday, February 11th, 2021
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Carol Edgarian: “a remarkable writer of intelligence and compassion.”

Stanford’s Another Look book club will hold its long-postponed discussion honoring author William Kennedy, a Pulitzer-prizewinning, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, at 3 p.m. (PST) on Friday, February 26. The Zoom event is free and open to the public – register HERE. Read more about the event here.

The discussion will be led by National Medal of Arts winner Tobias Wolff, with panelists Carol Edgarian, novelist and a founding editor of Narrative Magazine, and Robert Pogue Harrisonan acclaimed author and host for the popular radio series, Entitled OpinionsWolff and Harrison are, respectively, the founding and current directors of Another Look.

Edgarian is a newcomer to Another Look, but no stranger to Stanford. She graduated from the university in 1984 – so she’ll have a Zoom homecoming with the Another Look event. Amy Tan, another celebrated local author, called her “a remarkable writer of intelligence and compassion.”

Her newest book, Vera, will be out on March 2 with Scribner. It’s a novel set against the 1906 San Francisco earthquake,

It’s already getting praise: “A novel of resilience in the face of disaster, just what we need right about now,” wrote fellow novelist T.C. Boyle. “Edgarian’s tale couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Her previous books include the New York Times bestseller Three Stages of Amazement and the international bestseller Rise The Euphrates, winner of the ANC Freedom Prize.  Her work has been described by The Washington Post as notable for its “generosity of spirit, intelligence, humanity, and finally ambition.”  

Her articles and essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and W, among many others. But she is perhaps best known as co-founder of the Narrative (www.NarrativeMagazine.com), which publishes fiction, poetry, and art. It also sponsors Narrative in the Schools, which provides free libraries and writing resources for teachers and students around the world. Over the years, the online magazine has published  Ann BeattieT. C. BoyleJoyce Carol OatesJayne Anne Phillips and our own Tobias Wolff.

“When we started the magazine,” she told Ron Charles of The Washington Post in 2014, “the thinking about online reading was that readers would not sit still for more than 1,000 words. We set about working against that grain, and from the first, we published long-form work: stories, novellas, novel serializations. One of the great things about digital publication, in our view, is that we can go long.”

To bring you up to speed on our upcoming event: Pulitzer prizewinning novelist William Kennedy has been called the Bard of Albany, but he began his career as a reporter. After a stint in the military and in Puerto Rico, he returned to his hometown, and saw the city of his birth with new eyes: “Without a sense of place, you don’t, as a writer, have very much. Place is all those forces of a given society impinging upon and determining character. Without it, a book becomes bloodless.”

Tobias Wolff will lead the discussion

Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game belongs to William Kennedy’s celebrated Albany sequence of novels. According to Stanford’s Tobias Wolff, “Set during the Depression, it concerns a young gambler and bookie, the Billy of the title, who suffers a setback that compels him to embark on an odyssey – and I use that word advisedly – through the demimonde of his city, during which he encounters temptations and dangers that test his resolve to the limit. There are gangsters, there is a kidnapping, but at its core this novel is about character, and what this man will do and endure to preserve his honor.”

Like all our events, it is free and available to the public. Register HERE, and welcome Carol Edgarian back to Stanford … virtually speaking.

At last! At last! Stanford spotlights William Kennedy’s “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game” on Feb. 26!

Friday, January 29th, 2021
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The Bard of Albany, Irish-American author William Kennedy

It’s happening! It’s finally happening! At 3 p.m. (PST) on Friday, February 26, Stanford’s Another Look book club hold its long-postponed Another Look discussion honoring author William Kennedy, a Pulitzer-prizewinning, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow. Our event for the 1978 book was one of the early COVID casualties at Stanford last spring. Now it will be rescheduled as a Zoom event (isn’t everything nowadays)?

From our announcement:

Pulitzer prizewinning novelist William Kennedy has been called the Bard of Albany, but he began his career as a reporter. After a stint in the military and in Puerto Rico, he returned to his hometown, and saw the city of his birth with new eyes: “Without a sense of place, you don’t, as a writer, have very much. Place is all those forces of a given society impinging upon and determining character. Without it, a book becomes bloodless.”

According to Stanford’s Tobias Wolff, who will lead the discussion: Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game belongs to William Kennedy’s celebrated Albany sequence of novels. Set during the Depression, it concerns a young gambler and bookie, the Billy of the title, who suffers a setback that compels him to embark on an odyssey – and I use that word advisedly – through the demimonde of his city, during which he encounters temptations and dangers that test his resolve to the limit. There are gangsters, there is a kidnapping, but at its core this novel is about character, and what this man will do and endure to preserve his honor.”

The discussion will be led by National Medal of Arts winner Tobias Wolff, with panelists Carol Edgarian, novelist and founding editor of Narrative Magazine, and Another Look Director Robert Pogue Harrisonan acclaimed author and host for the popular radio series, Entitled Opinions

Like all our events, it is free and available to the public. Register here.

And check out my Los Angeles Review of Books interview with Bill Kennedy, discussing his life and, in particular, Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game. An excerpt:

CYNTHIA HAVEN: Hemingway wrote: “Everything changes as it moves. That is what makes the movement which makes the story. Sometimes the movement is so slow it does not seem to be moving. But there is always change and always movement.” It’s a thought you echo more than once in Billy Phelan, for example, when you write: “We are only as possible as what happened to us yesterday. We all change as we move.” You’ve said, “The movement is what creates the action, and the action is what creates the story” — which in turn creates more movement. Clearly, you’ve thought about this a lot. Could you share a few more thoughts?

WILLIAM KENNEDY: I must’ve been deeply persuaded by Hemingway’s lines to have lifted them without crediting him; but I always listened to what he said about writing. In The Angels and the Sparrows, I created Francis Phelan, a wino in his 30s, a clever, obnoxious loner returning home for his mother’s funeral (she kicked him out), who stops at a neighborhood bar for a beer and is hostile to the bartender. It was a good scene. He was a sad, broken young guy, but I disliked him seriously, even as I was creating him, and didn’t want to carry him forward.

Then, maybe 15 years later I started to write Billy Phelan and I reinvented the Phelan family. I had to get rid of Francis as that antipathetic young wino. He still had to be a bum, but I aged him into a tortured figure at the bottom of the world who was Billy’s father, and his life immediately became an open-ended challenge to my imagination. It turned out that he had abandoned his family 22 years earlier after his 13-day-old son, Gerald, slipped out of a diaper while he was changing him, fell off a table, broke his neck and died. In the fall of 1938, Francis drifts back to Albany to vote in a Democratic primary election, knowing the machine will pay him $5 for this; so he votes 21 times, earning $105, and is put in jail. Billy, the gambler, hears he’s in town and bails him out. The new Francis, after living through 16 years of shame and guilt over dropping the infant and running off, became a pitiable but likable human being. I don’t know where Gerald came from. There was no such incident in my life, nor can I remember hearing of one; perhaps I forgot it. But years ago I decided it was a gift from my unconscious, a fruitful one. In Billy, Francis was so vitally real that he leaped onto my typewriter and demanded his own novel. So I wrote Ironweed for him.

Again, register for the event here.