Friday, February 29, 2008

Meet the Author - Erik Larson

Erik Larson certainly knows how to craft a great story from a blend of fictional elements and historical fact. His writing style, known as narrative or literary nonfiction, has been used to great effect not only in our first reading, Isaac’s Storm (1999), but also in other works by him, such as The Devil in the White City (2003) and Thunderstruck (2006).
Larson’s interest in history can be traced back to his studies in Russian culture and history at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his undergraduate degree. Yet he notes, “I'm not a historian; I’m a writer who tries to find stories and bring them to life.” Larson developed his writing skills at Columbia University, earning a graduate degree from the School of Journalism in 1978.

Quoted by Writer in September of 2003, he states, “I love trying to capture atmosphere, landscape, events, in prose. I love sinking into the past. What I’m trying to do for my readers is allow them to just fall into another time, and ideally not emerge until the book is done, with a changed sense of the past.” He attributes his literary influences to Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Leo Tolstoy, among others.

Erik Larson lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and three daughters. Mornings are dedicated to writing, either on a computer or legal pad, but he knows when to quit – around noon!

For further information on narrative nonfiction as a literary form or to read an interview with Erik Larson, click on the link to The University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication webpage.

TIP: For biographical information on Erik Larson or other authors, go to Bernardsville Public Library’s webpage and click on the online resources link which will take you to a Wilson Web biography database. That is where I found most of my information for this article.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Let the Reading Begin

Saturday Samplers announces the first three titles we will be reading for our discussion group:

  • Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson

  • Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

  • Grendel by John Gardner

Isaac's Storm, a gripping piece of nonfiction, will be discussed first on April 5th. For a change of pace, we will next explore the humorous, insightful short stories of ZZ Packer on May 3rd, followed by John Gardner's unique fictional work on June 7th. Start your engines!