Sunday, January 19, 2014

SRO for author Tim O'Brien at Writers in Paradise

The audience applauds author Tim O'Brien at the end of his reading.
It was standing room only Saturday as best-selling writer Tim O’Brien read from his phenomenal short story collection The Things They Carried (1990) on the opening night of Writers in Paradise. It’s always pleasing when there’s an enthusiastic response to literary events in town, so we were particularly delighted to see Miller Auditorium full of devoted readers. 

Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried
Host Dennis Lehane had the audience in stitches with his introduction as he recalled his first encounter with O’Brien many years ago when they were both appearing at a Boston bookstore for a book signing. O’Brien was the seasoned professional. Lehane was the awestruck newbie with his first book just coming out. Lehane considered the encounter a disaster. Fortunately, he said, O’Brien didn’t remember it.

The audience seemed spellbound as O’Brien read some of his short story How to Tell a True War Story in The Things They Carried, a fictional recounting of his experiences with a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. The New York Times listed the critically acclaimed work as one of the 22 best books of the last quarter century. It received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and the National  Book Critics Circle Award.

Later, O’Brien entertained the audience as he talked informally about his work, readers, war and peace, and other topics with Lehane.

Host Dennis Lehane, conference co-director
O’Brien also wrote If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973), Where Have you Gone, Charming Billy? (1975), Going After Cacciato (1978), which won the National Book Award, The Nuclear Age (1985), In the Lake of the Woods (1994), Tomcat in Love (1998), and July, July (2002).

We don’t know for sure, but it wouldn’t be surprising to find some of O’Brien’s books at the 2014 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

Throughout the week, students enrolled in the 2014 Eckerd College Writer’s Conference will attend workshop classes, roundtables, and panel discussions in nonfiction, novel, screenwriting, short story, and young adult writing.

The free Evening Reading Series is open to the public and continues nightly (except Wednesday) through next Saturday, January 25. A wine and cheese reception begins at 7:30. Readings follow at 8 p.m.

Lehane is conference co-director with author Sterling Watson. Lehane has published 10 novels, including Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone, and Shutter Island, which were adapted into award-winning films. Watson was director of creating writing at Eckerd College for 20 years and is the college's Peter Meinke Professor Emeritus of Literature and Creative Writing. He is the author of six novels, including The Calling, Sweet Dream Baby, and Weep No More My Brother. His most recent novel is Fighting in the Shade.
Audience listened intently as O'Brien talked about his work and other topics with Dennis Lehane.

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