Bookstores & Bars

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How does a grad student have a social life? Easy! Bookstores & bars.

This weekend, I attended Adam McOmber‘s reading at Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview and a meet & greet for the first years in the Creative Writing – Nonfiction MFA program at Flat Iron in Wicker Park.

Thursday night: I headed to the bookstore around 6:45pm for a 7:00pm event. Unabridged Bookstore is located just down Broadway, about four blocks from my house. There was wine, books, friends, fellow faculty members, and professors. Unabridged is my favorite bookstore in the city, so I was excited to see Adam, one of my colleagues at Columbia and a friend, read at this location. Adam has had a decent amount of press recently due to his collection of short stories, This New and Poisonous Air and his most recent novel, The White Forest,  which he describes as a “mystery” and “escapist fiction.” Seriously, folks, Google him. There’s an article written about him everyday. Adam has an incredible presence when he reads, very engaging and personable and also humble. My favorite moment during the reading was during the Q+A when his father asked him (yes, his father was in attendance!) how he wrote so vividly and came up with such great ideas when he was raised in a small farm town. Adam explained, speaking directly to his father, that when you live in the farmlands, “you have nothing to do but think, to escape from the farms that you know, to create something fantastic.” And he has. It was a very warm moment to witness and after the reading, I purchased the book and promptly had it signed.

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Saturday evening:  I met up with classmates from the Creative Writing-Nonfiction MFA program to welcome the first years with a special Meet & Greet. It’s wonderful to meet new people in the program and to learn about their different backgrounds in writing, where they are from, about their family. I’m excited to have new people in the program, and I also had a wonderful time hanging out with the old souls, the second and third years. When I began this program, it was in it’s first year, and there were only ten of us. The program has grown to thirty people now, and it’s lovely to see everyone meshing and sharing new ideas about writing. I like the signs of growth, the new faces, and during the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing you to some of the new faces on the blog, as well as some old faces.

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This, fellow writers, current and prospective grad friends, is how to balance a social and professional schedule. Or, at least one of the ways. You blend those different areas of your life. You cross-pollinate.