Best-selling American authors come to Squaw Valley | SierraSun.com

Best-selling American authors come to Squaw Valley

by Jules Witek
Sierra Sun

Writers of “Crazy in Alabama,” “Blue Nude,” “The Lovely Bones” and “The Joy Luck Club” will be reading excerpts from their works at PlumpJack Conference Center tonight.

The event, “An Evening With American Authors,” includes Elizabeth Rosner, Alice Sebold, Mark Childress and Amy Tan. Childress and Tan shared insight into “Southern writers as a genre” and “Fiction as a way of understanding the meaning of life.”

“The South,” said Childress, an Alabama native, “is a group of writers that are set aside as a separate group. There is no other area of the country where writers are identified by their location.

“It is the only part of the United States,” he said laughing, “that used to be its own country.”

Childress said people from the South love to talk a lot, and that’s conducive to being a fiction writer.

“It isn’t the cliche things, like people sitting out on their porches in rocking chairs, that separates Southern writers. It’s that if they get a flat tire during the day, they don’t just come home and say ‘I got a flat tire,'” he said.

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“They say, ‘Let me tell you about my day. I was on the way to work and I was about to stop by the pharmacy…'”

For Southerners, Childress said, it is always a narrative.

In his new book “One Mississippi,” he blends comedy and tragedy with his characteristic Southern flair.

“It is a book about high school for grown-ups” he said.

Childress will be reading from the book this evening.

Amy Tan’s most recent novel, “Saving Fish From Drowning,” is a departure from her previous books that found inspiration in her mother, her struggles with her traditional Chinese heritage and her American life experiences. The new book explores the moral dilemma where truth is about perception and good intentions can result in bad outcomes.

“I may (instead) read from a nonfiction piece that is a story about writing a story,” she said. “The story is also about ghosts.”

Reading fiction, Tan said, is an essential part of life.

“It isn’t just about an escape or entertainment it opens us up to understanding ourselves, through the imagination of the author,” Tan said. “Imagination as a writer and as a reader is the closest thing to compassion, and this allows us to feel empathy and understand what a person is going through.”

Like Childress and Tan, authors Elizabeth Rosner and Alice Sebold have also taken the their ethnic backgrounds and personal tragedies and transformed them into best-selling books.

The readings this evening will no doubt be ghostly, tragic, and a coming of age set in the splendor of Squaw Valley.

For more information about the Squaw Valley Community of Writers or their yearly summer literary events visit, http://www.squawvalleywriters.org.

For more information about the Squaw Valley Institute and its cultural programs, go to http://www.squawvalleyinstitute.com

An Evening With American Authors

PlumpJack Conference Center

-Thursday 7:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

-Admission is a donation (tax deductible) $12 per person and $5 for students. Call Squaw Valley Community of Writers at 530-581-5200 to reserve tickets.

-A signed copy from one of the authors can be reserved if you are unable to attend the event. Contact Stacey Knapp between 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at (831) 234-8430.