For Immediate Release
December 5, 2013
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BROCKPORT, NY—A great American author visited The College at Brockport, State University of New York, Dec. 4 to culminate the fall semester of The Brockport Writers Forum.
Russell Banks, author of a dozen novels and short story collections that have won him Guggenheim and NEA grants and a St. Lawrence Prize for fiction, delivered the annual Writer’s Voice lecture at Temple B’rith Kodesh on Elmwood Ave.
In welcoming the audience, Brockport Vice President for Advancement Roxanne Johnston praised Banks's work.
“He’s a fine writer with a keen ability to illuminate some of the darker corners of human nature,” Johnston said.
Banks began his talk by sharing the story behind his most recent collection of short stories, A Permanent Member of the Family. He explained how, when he decided to return to the genre after a period of 11 years, he turned to something that he says is familiar to all writers—a small, tattered, coffee stained notebook. The notebook was packed with potential story ideas that he had jotted down over the years. Banks poured through his notes and selected 12 that would become his book.
“These notes are all connected to the world I’m living in today…the last year and a half, especially,” he said.
Banks shared some of those notes with the audience—often eliciting laughter. Then proceeded to read two stories from the book. “Transplant” told the story of a man who received a heart transplant, thanks to a donor who was killed in a tragic accident. It revealed the difficult and conflicting emotions that were evoked when the man was later asked to meet the donor’s widow. “Christmas Party” relayed the emotions a man experienced while attending a Christmas party hosted by his ex-wife and the man with whom she had an affair. At the conclusion of each story, Banks revealed the note that inspired it.
A prolific writer of fiction, Banks’s other titles include The Darling, The Sweet Hereafter, Cloudsplitter, and Affliction.
The Brockport Writers Forum is in its 47th year of bringing outstanding authors to Greater Rochester. The Forum’s Videotape Library, containing more than 300 interviews with contemporary writers, has received supporting grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation. The Writers Forum is sponsored by a generous donation from M&T Bank.
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