6 sessions, in-person meetings
Once a week Tuesdays, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm February 12 to March 26, 2019
Anaïs Nin wrote that “something is always born of excess”, and urged the writer to “learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness.” Perfectionism and self-consciousness can keep early drafts from being as overflowing and as experimental (in terms of content as well as form) as they should be; but once the excess has been channeled, the shaping can begin, and the workshop can be an invaluable and energizing space in which to tackle this shaping. In these generative sessions, we will explore the possibilities of early drafting, inviting fullness and looking towards shape; we will look at story and backstory, voice and interiority, context and subtext, and at the formal and stylistic decisions which will bring a piece of fiction to its most powerful shape. Novels in progress and stories are both welcome, preferably in early drafts or in drafts that are open to rethinking and regeneration, but if you are submitting a novel, we will ask to read from page 1. We will read published short stories and essays which invite consideration of the notions of fullness and of moving forward from excess to coherence, from apparent chaos to the possibilities already in evidence on the page.
Please note: This class will skip the meeting on February 19th and make it up on March 26th.
Belinda McKeon is a novelist and playwright. Her most recent novel is Tender (2015), which was shortlisted for Irish Novel of the Year and the Encore Award. Her debut, Solace, was published in 2011 and won the Faber Prize as well as being named Irish Book of the Year. She has published fiction and non-fiction in Granta, A Public Space, The Paris Review, The New York Times, The Guardian and elsewhere. Her edited collection, A Kind of Compass: Stories on Distance, was published by Tramp Press in 2015. As a playwright, she has had work produced in Dublin and New York. Her most recent play was Nora, a version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, produced by Corn Exchange at the Dublin Theatre Festival. She lives in upstate New York and teaches at Rutgers University.
By Belinda McKeon
When they meet in Dublin in the late nineties, Catherine and James become close as two friends can be. She is a sheltered college student, he an adventurous, charismatic young artist. In a city brimming with possibilities, he spurs her to take life on with gusto. But as Catherine opens herself to new experiences, James’s life becomes a prison; as changed as the new Ireland may be, it is still not a place in which he feels able to truly be himself. Catherine, grateful to James and worried for him, desperately wants to help–but as time moves on, and as life begins to take the friends in difference directions, she discovers that there is a perilously fine line between helping someone and hurting him further. When crisis hits, Catherine finds herself at the mercy of feelings she cannot control, leading her to jeopardize all she holds dear.
By turns exhilarating and devastating, Tender is a dazzling exploration of human relationships, of the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we are taught to tell. It is the story of first love and lost innocence, of discovery and betrayal. A tense high-wire act with keen psychological insights, this daring novel confirms Belinda McKeon as a major voice in contemporary fiction, joining the ranks of the masterful Edna O’Brien and Anne Enright.
By Belinda McKeon
An “artfully constructed novel, which the author, a playwright, unfurls in lush streams of consciousness” (The New Yorker), about a father and son thrown together by tragedy—from the author of Tender, McKeon’s new novel coming in 2016.
Set in an Ireland that catapulted into wealth at the end of the twentieth century and then suffered a swift economic decline, Belinda McKeon’s Solace is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel about the conflicting values of the old and young generations and the stubborn, heartbreaking habits that mute the language of love.
Tom and Mark Casey are a father and son on a collision course, two men who have always struggled to be at ease with one another. Tom is a farmer in the Irish midlands, the descendant of men who have farmed the same land for generations. Mark, his only son, is a doctoral student in Dublin, writing his dissertation on the nineteenth-century novelist Maria Edgeworth, who spent her life on her family estate, not far from the Casey farm. To his father, who needs help baling the hay and ploughing the fields, Mark’s academic pursuit isn’t work at all. Then, at a party in Dublin, Mark meets Joanne Lynch, a lawyer in training whom he finds irresistible. She also happens to be the daughter of a man who once spectacularly wronged Mark’s father, and whose betrayal Tom has remembered every single day for twenty years.
After the lightning strike of tragedy, Tom and Mark are left with grief neither can share or fully acknowledge. Not even the magnitude of their mutual loss can alter the habit of silence. “A story told with clear-eyed compassion and quiet intelligence about what it is to grow up and grow away, about the difference between ‘here’ and ‘home.’ This is a lovely debut” (Anne Enright, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Gathering).2 .
Members Only: The LiterariansFree
Wednesday, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm December 18, 2019
Recent Irish Literature: The Nightmare and Dream of History$150
Once a month Thursdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm January 30 to May 28, 2020
Reading Group: Roberto Bolaño’s 2666$150
Every Three Weeks Wednesdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm February 12 to May 6, 2020
Proust I with Damion Searls – Spring Term$250
Once a month Thursdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm February 20 to June 25, 2020
Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South$140
Once a month Tuesdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm February 25 to May 26, 2020
Graham Greene: Belief and Doubt$160
Once a month Wednesdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm February 26 to June 24, 2020
Dystopian Fiction, Past and Present$140
Once a month Tuesdays, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm March 10 to June 2, 2020