There is a unique sense of common experience in attending a live reading. However, if the added complexity of a live reading does not sound appealing to you, I would still recommend coming to Literary Arts Live. It is an incredible and recurrent opportunity to drink hot chai and have a personal conversation with accomplished writers such as Jason Ockert.

“Ockert read a very enticing story about an airplane and some guy hiking in Pennsylvania. His style reminds me a bit of Don Dellillo and David Foster Wallace’s brand of surrealism,” Christina Perrone ’20 commented. In the ambiguous nature of the airspace, reality and fantasy blend together. The story itself has very distinct sections that come together. His work is not only beautiful in descriptions and development but also in a structural sense. The writing is visibly challenging and complex, containing effective anchors, flashbacks, and parallelisms. It is not often that these structures are used in short stories precisely because of their succinctness. While it is hard for an untrained eye to recognize the complexity of these elements, we see these in movies and novels often. One of the privileges of having Ockert come to Bates is that these ideas can be discussed and explored.

Jason Ockert is the author of the novel Wasp Box and of two short story collections entitled “Rabbit Punches” and “Neighbors of Nothing.” Ockert is the winner of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, the Dzanc Short Story Collection Contest, and the Atlantic Monthly Fiction Contest. After the reading, Ockert answered a couple questions and chatted with students. I chatted with the author shortly about the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. We discussed how, at times, his short story flirted with the idea of magic realism and with structures of anticipation and flashback that I admire in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez. I am fascinated by the interdisciplinary nature of English and writing, which easily overlaps the fields of Anthropology, American Cultural Studies, Theater, and so many others.

While this is a great resource for all students, I would recommend it especially to those interested in writing. As my first time attending the Literary Arts Live, I already look forward to next event.