English department hosts author Sharlet for Writers’ Series

by Andy Thigpen Life Editor

The UNA Writers’ Series will be hosting its first event of the year Sept. 15 at 11 a.m. with author Jeff Sharlet speaking about his career, focusing on his new book “Sweet Heaven When I Die.”

Sharlet, who gained national acclaim for his nonfiction work “The Family,” will be coming to UNA to read from his latest book and talk about the cultivation and importance of creativity and imagination.

“His work should appeal to anyone interested in writing,” said Pam Kingsbury, instructor of English and chair of the Writers’ Series committee. “(His work) is accessible, smart and very much tapped into the zeitgeist, while being entertaining. He has a sense of humor about his topics.”

His style has been called by the Washington Post as belonging “in the tradition of long-form, narrative nonfiction best exemplified by Joan Didion, John McPhee (and) Norman Mailer.”

Sharlet is a creative nonfiction writer who has been active in literary and pop-culture circles. He is Mellon assistant professor of English at Dartmouth, and has also taught at NYU in the Center for Religion and Media. He also acts as a contributing editor to both Rolling Stone and Harper’s magazines, along with contributing to the yearly music issue of the Oxford American.

Sharlet has spoken at colleges across the U.S., including Yale, Princeton, Columbia and the Univeristy of Virginia, among others. He has also appeared as a guest on shows such as MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” NPR’s “Fresh Air,” HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” and Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with John Stewart.”

Kingsbury hopes that, by hosting a writer like Sharlet, students will take away a new perspective on writing.

“What we hope students will take away is that writer’s aren’t remote individuals,” Kingsbury said. “I want them to see that writers are alive and moving amongst us, and that writing is alive and well. Students need to know that they can go out and find writing events in the Deep South if they want to.”

This is the 28th year for the Writer’s Series at UNA.

“(The Writer’s Series) was founded with the intention of encouraging students and exposing them to a broader worldview,” Kingsbury said. “It’s important for writers who are published to have a connection with students who are dreaming of doing it.”

The event will include a reading by Sharlet from “Sweet Heaven I Die,” followed by a lecture on creativity in writing. He will then take questions from the audience and have a book signing once the event is over. The event is free to the public.