Mar 21, 2010 Herm Card Uncategorized
Gloversville native Richard Russo, the March 16 Rosamond Gifford lecture Series speaker, attributes the bulk of his writing success to three things: “Having a voracious reader, a “BSer” and an artist in my family.”
The voracious reader was his mother, who instilled in him the reading habit and a love for it by taking him along on her frequent trips to the Gloversville public library. The BSer was his father. “He was a story teller, but the stories always turned out differently. He didn’t seem to remember, or care, that I was always there to hear the different versions. It didn’t really matter to either of us — they were good stories every time.”
The artist was his grandfather, a glove cutter. “The goal of cutting gloves was to get as many as possible from a piece of leather. The tricky part was that the leather would have imperfections that needed to be hidden. The artistry was in doing that. He would cut the leather so that imperfections would be hidden between the fingers or in seams. It was 25 or thirty years before I would ever put pen to paper seriously, but his example stuck with me — using your artistry to hide the imperfections.”
Known for infusing humor into his work, Russo writes about blue collar life and “Main Street USA.” He says of his writing that “I am a professional liar. I tell stories. I make things up.” He is the author of Empire Falls (winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize), Straight Man, and Nobody’s Fool.
He received his BA in English at the University of Arizona along with his Ph.D. in American Literature in 1980. He also earned a master of fine arts degree in creative writing in 1981. In addition to being a novelist he was a former fiction instructor and professor of creative writing at Southern Illinois University and Colby College. Now retired from teaching, he says that he misses the students, but that while “There is still much to be said about writing, it just doesn’t need to be said by me.”
At the conclusion of the question and answer period that followed Russo’s talk, Jeff Meltzer, board president for the Friends of the Central Library, announced the speakers for the 2010-2011 season.
Michael Pollan, scheduled for Tuesday, October 5, 2010, has written about food, agriculture, drugs, gardens, and architecture, focusing on “where the human and natural worlds intersect.” His work includes In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World.
Two time Pulitzer Prize winner W. S. Merwin is one of the most widely read poets in America. He has also received the Golden Wreath, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award the National Book Award, the Tanning Prize, the Bollingen Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. His lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, November 9, 2010.
The third lecture of the season, Tuesday, December 21, 2010 will feature Elizabeth Strout. She is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her novel Olive Kitteridge a collection of 13 stories all linked to a retired teacher. She has also written Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle. Strout has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Rick Steves, best known for his public television show Rick Steves’ Europe, and his best-selling European travel guide books will appear on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. He has written over 30 European guidebooks, 12 country guidebooks, nine city and regional guides, six phrase books, and is the co-author of Europe 101: History and Art for Travelers. This will be his first visit to Syracuse.
Called “America’s literary heir to the Brothers Grimm,” Alice Hoffman’s everyday fables are about life’s common struggles including relationships, intimacy, family, identity, love and basic survival. Some of her titles include Here on Earth, Practical Magic, Blackbird House, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, The Ice Queen, and Skylight Confessions. She is also the author of several children’s books and young adult titles. Her lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, 2011.
David Baldacci, author of 18 novels, nine screenplays, and a novella will conclude the 2010-2011 season. A champion of the cause of literacy, Baldacci and his wife founded the Wish You Well Foundation, supporting family literacy in the United States. Baldacci is the author of Absolute Power, Total Control, The Winner, Last Man Standing, The Camel Club, The Collectors, Simple Genius, and Divine Justice, in addition to several others. He has over 90 million copies in publication. Baldacci is personally involved in numerous philanthropic efforts including his family’s own educational programs. The His lecture will take place on Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Baldacci partly accepted his offer to participate in the Gifford Lecture Series because Syracuse is well known for its literacy efforts.
This season still has two remaining speakers. Sara Gruen the author of Riding Lessons, Flying Changes, and Water for Elephants will speak on April 27 and Jeffrey Toobin, author of Too Close for Comfort, A Vast Conspiracy and The Nine, will appear on May 18.
Proceeds of the Gifford Lecture Series are donated to the Central Library to fund programming and to purchase books and materials. Tickets are sold through the Oncenter Box Office at 435-2121. For questions related to the series, subscriptions, or general questions about the lecture series check us out at www.giffordlectureseries.org or call FOCL Program Director, Denise Headd at 435-1832.