Novelists Lit Youngstown

By Amanda Lehnerd

Lit Youngstown presented Lawrence Coates and Christopher Barzak for the first Monday reading on Oct. 3.

Lit Youngstown moved their traditional first Wednesday reading to Monday for the month of October to bring together two similar novelists. Karen Schubert, Lit Youngstown co-director, feels pairing artists of the same genre allows for a more collaborative reading.

“I like to pair two novelists together that have a similar style,” Shubert said. “I like trying to pair writers of the same genre together, so local novelists can come and listen to other novelists who have the same style as them.”

Coates is a professor of creative writing at Bowling Green State University. His first novel was “The Blossom Festival,” which won The Western States Book Award for Fiction and was selected for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Series.

The “Master of Monterey,” his second piece, was published in 2003 with “The Garden of the World” following suit.

His latest novel, published in 2015 is “The Goodbye House.” It is based on the first dot-COM bust and 9/11.

“The book is based on a character named Scot, and he sees everyone getting rich on the dot-COM boom. He decides to invest in the dot-COM boom, and then he loses everything when it crashes,” Coates said. “The book also includes Scot’s family and his grandfather, who is a Pearl Harbor veteran and have now lived through 9/11.”

At the reading, Coates read a small passage called Trombone and Shopping Cart. Then, he also read a snippet from “The Garden of the World,” which is his third novel about a pioneer winemaking family from the 20 century. Barzak read a small passage from some of his smaller works.

Barzak is an associate professor at Youngstown State University and a novelist. He is the author of The Crawford Fantasy Award winning novel “One for Sorrow,” which was made into the Sundance feature film “Jamie Marks is Dead”.

Barzak’s second novel, “The Love We Share Without Knowing,” was a finalist for the Nebula Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. His most recent, “Wonders of the Invisible World,” was published by Knopf in 2015, received the Stonewall Honor Award from the American Library Association.

Along with Coates and Barzak’s presentations, there was an open mic where people could sign up to share five minutes of any literary content, and there was a restaurant takeover.

Jordan McNeil, YSU student and president of the Student Literary Arts Association, was in charge of the restaurant takeover. She came up with the idea when she saw another student organization doing a restaurant takeover at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts.

“From 6 to 9:30 p.m. during the Lit Youngstown reading, the SLAA will receive 10 percent of all food sales at Suzie’s,” McNeil said. “Unlike other restaurant takeovers, participants didn’t need a takeover ticket to indicate that the purchases should be counted toward the takeover.”

Shubert said that after a year of trial and error they have finally figured out how to utilize the space at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts to make the novelist feel more involved.

“We had been having novelists present their material for a while. I asked one of our earlier novelists what she thought about the location for a reading,” Shubert said. “The novelist said the vibe of the location was nice, but she felt that they needed to utilize the location space at the front of the bar for people attending the event versus people just visiting the bar.”

For more information on upcoming Lit Youngstown events, visit Lit Youngstown.

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