The absurdities of life produce some of the funniest stories.
That’s the message author George Singleton will bring Sept. 3 as the first presenter in the American Book Review Fall Reading Series at the University of Houston-Victoria. He will read from some of his short fiction at noon in the Alcorn Auditorium of the University West building, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The event is free to the public, and light refreshments will be served.
Singleton has authored four short-story collections, two novels and one book of writing advice. His short fiction has appeared in Playboy, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s and Zoetrope. He is currently finishing his eighth book while on a Guggenheim Fellowship, which he received in April.
“We’re very fortunate to have an established writer who can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same sentence,” said Tom Williams, associate editor of the American Book Review and chair of the humanities division in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “His work is very accessible and entertaining. Authors and aspiring writers can learn a lot from him, and readers will thoroughly enjoy him.”
Singleton describes his writing style as “Southern absurdity comedy. It’s just kind of regular, everyday men and women butting their heads up against the absurdities of life.”
Much of his inspiration comes from watching clashing cultures in his home in a small town in South Carolina.
For example, one day while buying a drink at a convenience store, one of the new generation of farming entrepreneurs in the area pulled up with a horse trailer containing two llamas.
An older farmer looked upon the new arrivals and asked, “What the hell kind of donkeys is them?”
The constant clashing of many cultures produces “nothing but conflict, and that’s what good stories are made of,” Singleton said.
He received his Guggenheim Fellowship to finish a novel and several short stories. The awards are given to artists, scientists and scholars based on their stellar achievements and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment. Singleton was one of 12 fiction writers selected out of 180 fellows and nearly 3,000 applicants.
In 2007, Newsweek said about his novel “Work Shirts for Madmen,” “If there is a fiction genre blending the riotous, bleary-eyed excess and absurdity of gonzo journalism with the rather earnest, sensitivity of a John Irving hero – who always does right by his wife in the end – ‘Work Shirts’ belongs to it.”
For the past 10 years, Singleton has taught fiction writing at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, S.C.
|American Book Review|
While in Victoria, the authors in the Reading Series attend roundtable discussions with UHV faculty and students, make classroom visits to area schools, give lectures that are open to the community, and go to receptions hosted by Friends of ABR patrons. Past speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Oshinsky, author and Iranian refugee Farnoosh Moshiri, Chicana novelist Ana Castillo and American Book Award recipient Graciela Limon.
Other authors scheduled for fall series are:
Tony Diaz, Oct 1 – Diaz is the author of the novel “The Aztec Love God” and editor of “Latino Heretics,” both published by FC2. He is a graduate of the creative writing program at the University of Houston and the founder of Nuestra Palabra, an organization that promotes Latino writers. Diaz lives in Houston and teaches at Houston Community College.
Andrew Porter, Oct. 22 – Porter received the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction from the University of Georgia Press for his debut collection of stories “The Theory of Light and Matter.” The collection has since been nominated for the Texas Institute of Letters’ Steven Turner Award for Best Book of First Fiction and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. Knopf Publishers has purchased the worldwide paperback rights to the collection and will publish it in 2010. It also will be published in the United Kingdom and Australia and in translation in France and The Netherlands. Porter teaches at Trinity University in San Antonio.
Cris Mazza, Nov. 19 - Mazza is the author of 15 books, including 10 novels, four collections of stories and a collection of personal essays. A prominent post-feminist writer, she also edited “Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction” (1995) and “Chick-Lit 2 (No Chick Vics)” (1996), two anthologies of women’s fiction that altered the literary landscape in the mid-1990s.
“This season’s reading series will bring a wonderfully diverse group of accomplished authors to Victoria,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, editor/publisher of ABR and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “I hope everyone will avail themselves of the opportunity to broaden their literary and reading horizons.”
For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call ABR Managing Editor Charles Alcorn at 361-570-4100 or go to www.americanbookreview.org.