“Write what you know.” A piece of advice offered so often, it’s practically the first commandment of writing. In fact, many warn that writing what you do not know is inevitably reductive, dangerous, even. What happens, then, when a young Southern writer takes on punk culture, a shooting in Central Park, and the NYC blackout of 1977?
If that Southerner is WashU alum Garth Risk Hallberg (born in Louisiana, raised in North Carolina), you get City on Fire, a formidable tome more than six years in the making. Stretching across 900+ pages, City on Fire chronicles the curiously connected lives of various New Yorkers—“power brokers and anarchists” as well as “cops and journalists, rockers and wannabes”—leading up to the blackout, and in the process, conveys quite beautifully the spirit of an era long gone. And two years ago, it sparked a massive bidding war, catapulting it to the lofty status of 2015’s most talked-about book of the year; some reviewers have gone so far as to say it may well be the next Great American Novel.
So, if all of this leaves you wanting more—and it should—you’re in luck: this Wednesday, Hallberg is returning to campus to present, “Organized Complexity: the Novel and the City.” And better still, the first one hundred students in attendance will receive free copies of the book, along with first dibs at the book signing to follow. This is one presentation you won’t want to miss. In a world where the fate of the “big novel” is obscured by fog, Hallberg’s City on Fire has offered to clear the air.
When: 6pm, Wednesday, September 28.
Where: Holmes Lounge
For more on Hallberg’s upcoming visit: http://assemblyseries.wustl.edu/event/organized-complexity-the-novel-and-the-city/?rd=20160928