LIVING TO READ, READING TO LIVE
Orner is the 2002-2003 winner of the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His story collection, Esther Stories, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award.
Cosponsored by the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Program. Peter Orner photo credit: Christopher Ho
4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19
Craft Talk, Boardroom, Campus Center West (1st Floor)
University at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222
Free and open to the public.
Award-winning fiction writer and essayist Peter Orner, whose work often celebrates the joy and necessity of reading, is the author of the new essay collection, Still No Word from You: Notes in the Margin (2022), “a unique chain of essays and intimate stories that meld the lived life and the reading life.”
In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Pushcart Prize–winning fiction writer Orner brings his lyrical, mosaic style to the story of his own life in this gorgeous and contemplative memoir.”
The talk will be moderated by Edward Schwarzschild, associate professor at the University at Albany and a fellow at the New York State Writers Institute.
Peter Orner on Looking for “Solace in Remembering” and His Pursuit of Chronology, In Conversation with Mitzi Rapkin on the First Draft Podcast, January 3, 2023, LitHub
An Interview with Peter Orner — On the Go, Dead Darlings, November 15, 2022
Praise for Peter Orner's Still No Word from You
Another top-notch collection from the author of Am I Alone Here?
Orner—a legitimate triple-threat: novelist, short story master, and prolific essayist—returns with an addictive collection of more than 100 buoyant essays organized around a single day and a wide range of emotions. “Preaching the gospel of fiction”—and literature in general—the author roves around freely, exploring the work of Virginia Woolf, John Cheever, Primo Levi, Shirley Hazzard, Gina Berriault, Robert Hayden, Marilynne Robinson, Yoel Hoffmann, Stacy Doris, Juan Rulfo, and numerous others.
The lyrical chapters unwind from noisy “Morning” to melancholy “Night.” Orner begins with vivid memories of his “loud, cackling” family members—mother, father, uncles, Grandpa Freddy in Fall River, Massachusetts—and growing up in Highland Park near Lake Michigan, a “tear rolling down the face of the Midwest,” and he recounts the sadness a “dumb Jewish kid” felt watching Larry Holmes beat Muhammad Ali in 1980. Later, the author confesses, while reflecting on the more than 4,000 haiku that Richard Wright composed during his career, “like so many of my stories, nonstories, there’s no movement, no forward momentum.” By “Mid-Morning,” Orner is wistful that fellow Midwestern author Wright Morris is “forgotten, yes, but still among us.” Orner also ponders his grandfather’s World War II letters to his “showgirl wife,” Lorraine, often begging her to write him back. The author tells us why he “permanently borrowed” James Alan McPherson’s Hue and Cry from the library, a book that contains “Gold Coast,” a story he wishes he could memorize and recite “like a prayer.” Ella Leffland’s Mrs. Munck, which he left unfinished on a train, is one of those rare books “you go on reading whether you are reading them or not.”
As Orner inches toward “Night,” readers will be lamenting the end of his wise, welcoming, heartfelt book. -- Kirkus Reviews
Orner brings grace and vigor to the short-story form in a preeminent collection, earning a place alongside Carver and Munro as he ranges across a broad emotional register. ―Best Books of 2019, Oprah Magazine
"It's been apparent since his first book, Esther Stories (2001), that Peter Orner was a major talent...Orner can do anything."―Dwight Garner, New York Times
"In this collection of forty-four compressed stories, and one novella, about blue-collar men and women and lives that didn't quite pan out, Orner maintains his reputation as a master of the form."―Gregory Cowles, New York Times Book Review
"There's a beautiful drifting quality to Maggie Brown and Others, a sense of being invited inside a roving, kaleidoscopic mind.” ―Elizabeth Graver, New York Times Book Review
"There are forty-four stories in this collection, and they are all marvels of concision and compassion. Pick it up. Trust me."―Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post