BRIEF EXCERPT FROM LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE JOHN R. MILTON WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

On September 18th I delivered a presentation about What Days Are Like When There Are Only Nights, a novel of mine that takes the form of a road, the pages black, the text displayed as an undulating series of white centerlines.

In particular I examined the the special suitability of hybrid texts to address the complexity of extreme social and personal circumstances.

“The unprecedented, when encountered, strips us of literacy and even identity—a literacy and identity that then reformulates as circumstances are absorbed by the mind, heart, and spirit. Form is a key tool to unearthing the drama because form, at the core, is an issue of identity played out on the page in front of readers. This narrative—a story concerning the continual displacement of a group of refugees—is not just a record of ‘what happened’ and ‘who is to blame’ but in addition strives to depict the deep and intense story of language’s power to reassert the humanity that no inhuman conditions can erase.”

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