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  • NYS Writers Institute

Talking Teddy with novelist Jerome Charyn

We were disappointed these COVID-19 protocols forced us to postpone the April 2 Writers Institute event with Jerome Charyn, author of more than 50 books, including “The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King,” a fictional portrait of former New York Governor and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

Charyn is quarantined in his Greenwich Village apartment, but he kindly agreed to speak with director Paul Grondahl for The Conversation. He also graciously participated in an hourlong Zoom classroom session with UAlbany English professor and Writers Institute Fellow Ed Schwarzschild and students in his English 350 class – who had read “The Cowboy King” beforehand.

Charyn answered insightful student questions, including how he chooses his book subjects (they often choose him); how he combats writer’s block (he writes every day, no matter what) and his admiration for Theodore Roosevelt.

In this discussion with Grondahl, he talks about how it feels like he is “under house arrest” during the coronavirus pandemic, how writing is a form of therapy that carries him through difficult times and how he “finds the music” in his narrative when he goes deep and channels the psyches of historical figures he has rendered in his novels: including Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and many more.

Charyn also talked about the many years he spent living in Paris and teaching writing and film studies at The American University of Paris – where he became a high-level competitive table tennis player. At 82, He still enjoys a ping-pong match and looks forward to being able to play again once the quarantine rules are lifted.

Charyn published his first novel in 1964 and he has had one of the longest continuous fiction careers in American letters. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and he was named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Click the arrow to view the Paul Grondahl - Jerome Charyn discussion

More about Jerome Charyn

Jerome Charyn, The Half-Wild Novelist by PJ Grisar, The Forward, April 21, 2019

Jerome Charyn, And His New Books, Play Double Jeopardy by Wendy Smith, Publishers Weekly, Sept. 10, 2018


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