I am very happy to announce the fourth reading for WRITING MATTERS, which will take place on March 21st at 7pm.  The speaker will be author Stewart O'Nan, whose latest novel, WEST OF SUNSET, is about the last years of F. Scott Fitzgerald, in Hollywood.  Stewart will talk about that book, but, like all other Writing Matters events, he will also talk about his entire body of work, and his life in general. Questions from the audience will be welcome. I always want to ask an author about the first thing they published. Or their dream dinner.  Maybe you'll want to ask Stewart about his high school sweetheart...I happen to know something about his high school sweetheart.

The first book I read of Stewart O'Nan's was called "Emily, Alone." I couldn't believe that a young man could so commandingly and sensitively assume an old woman's voice and perspective. Here's a random quote from that lovely book: 

"After having company all day, the place felt empty, yet at the same time Emily was relieved to be alone again, and pleased to have a clean house. She crossed to the front hall and made sure the storm door was shut tight, then gently shot the deadbolt, sealing herself in. Rufus knew that meant dinertime, and barked once to prod her. 'Yes, yes,' Emily said. 'Just hold your horses, Mr. Fatty." Isn't it comfortable as an old bathrobe, this kind of prose? EMILY ALONE also offers wonderful tidbits like this: "Or it might be, she thought, having lived long enough, she'd come to think of everyone close to her witj a helpless tenderness, accepting that life was hard and people did their best."

That's Stewart's great gift, getting inside the head of whoever he's writing about, and showing us what's there, and teasing out of us a genuine affection for what we might at first have called an unremarkable person. But as author Elizabeth Strout says, O'Nan is the king of the quotidian."  George Saunders calls him "an icredibly versatile and charming writer." And perhaps most importantly, Stewart is a genuinely nice guy.

Stewart O’Nan’s award-winning fiction includes fifteen novels, four works of non-ficiton, and a screenplay called "Poe." Granta named him one of America’s Best Young Novelists.  When asked about Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season, the book he co-authored with Stephen King, O'Nan replied, "Who would have thought that writing a book about the Red Sox would be the luckiest thing I ever did in my life."

   This event costs $10,  and any proceeds will buy books for children in need through Magic Tree Bookstore. In honor of the excesses of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, we will be serving champagne and desserts. AND Val Camilletti, of Val's Halla, will make a compilation CD of music of the '30's and '40s featuring the likes of Fats Waller, Bessie Smith, Fanny Brice, Duke Ellington, The Inkspots, Django Reinhardt and the Paul Whiteman orchestra. I have heard this CD, featuring 25 selections, and I absolutely love it. Val will make five extra copies to be given away in a raffle. One of my friends said, "Jeez, I'd come to the event for the chance to win that CD, alone!!"

As with the last wonderfully successful event,  I want this one to be more than a usual reading, I'd like it to feel like an evening out, a night's entertainment. I want you to be pleased, surprised, edified, galvanized, and inspired. The reading space will be quiet and beautiful. There will be flowers everywhere.  We will present our usual (very nearly patented) "kid reading,"  a young person presenting a very brief essay of their own composition about why books matter to them. You will enjoy great comaraderie: our audiences tend to be a very lively and appreciative (also beautiful and intelligent and well dressed and classy) group.

Oak Park is a great town to do this in, because there are so many good stores and restaurants here, so ostensibly you can make a day of it: come early, do some shopping and have dinner before or after the reading. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015
Oak Park Arts Club (Hemingway Museum)
200 N. Oak Park Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
To reserve your seat, please send a check for $10.00 per person made out to Elizabeth Berg
c/o Midwest Media
7115 North Ave. #303
Oak Park, Il 60302

or click below to get tickets through Brown Paper tickets. You'll be charged $11.34 instead of $10, but it's worth it if you like the convenience of just clicking to buy. I've used them for theater tickets, and they're very dependable, and also they give part of their profits to the charity of your choice. Click on the Elizabeth Berg presents Stewart O'Nan option.