November 1, 2014

ELC Department’s First Reading Features Lee Zacharias

The Creative Writing Concentration of the Department of English, Linguistics & Communication invites you to our first reading of the spring 2013 semester:

Lee Zacharias, professor emerita at UNC Greensboro, will be reading from her new novel, “At Random” (Fugitive Poets Press) on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. in Combs Hall, Room 139. A book signing and reception will follow the reading.

Zacharias is the author of “Lessons,” a novel, and a short story collection, “Helping Muriel Make It through the Night.” She has published numerous essays, short stories and photographs, and is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council.

On a rainy November night in 1991, Guy Ferrin and his wife, Eva Summer, are on their way home from an opera when a nine-year-old Montagnard boy runs in front of their car. Although his blood alcohol measures well below the legal limit, Guy is charged with felony death by motor vehicle. In luminous prose “At Random” reveals the complex mix of old vulnerabilities and new resilience in both characters, who badly want to do the right thing even as Guy’s case is sensationalized in the media and bungled through the judicial system, his guilt and sorrow turn to anger, and her relationship with their own son becomes erratic, alternately over-protective and resentful of the middle-class privilege he doesn’t appreciate. When the victim’s brother comes to them seeking ‘American insurance’ to help his sister escape an abusive marriage, Eva is drawn into the local community of Montagnard refugees. Compellingly real and beautifully told, “At Random” is at once the story of a middle-aged couple struggling to maintain their values, their marriage, and an increasingly tenuous hold on the middle class and the tale of a refugee family caught between a younger generation’s desire to assimilate and the older generation’s drive to preserve their own culture.

“Though the central dramatic incident that drives this novel is about as tragic as you can imagine, ‘At Random’ is filled with moments of tenderness and grace.  It’s also a page turner in the very best sense:  we want to know not only what happened, but how it will effect these characters, who are as complicated and flawed as the world they inhabit.  ‘At Random’ is so satisfying because it refuses to sugarcoat the various ways in which our existence is precarious, our time limited, and our need to compromise–in life and in love–vital to our survival.”

– Michael Parker, author of “The Watery Part of the World,” “If You Want Me to Stay,” and “Virginia Lovers.”  Parker is the recipient of the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, and the North Carolina Award for Literature, among other honors.

This reading is sponsored by the Department of English, Linguistics & Communication and The Writing Center/WI Program and the Arrington Professor of Poetry.

For other readings this semester, please see the attached calendar.

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.

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