Two fine writers came to the Callaway School House on the afternoon of Nov. 7 to share some selected readings from their latest publications. Professor and Chair of the Department of Languages and Literature Dr. Kendrick Prewitt hosted the event and had much to share about both of the distinguished speakers.
First to the podium was Jessica Hollander, who received her graduate degree at Michigan University and MFA at The University of Alabama. She now teaches at UA and has just published her first book, a collection of short stories entitled “In These Times the Home is a Tired Place.” From this book, she read two short stories about the intense ups and downs of being a twenty-something.
The first story, “January on the Ground,” chronicled the love/hate relationship a pair of young female friends have with the world around them, lamenting everything from holiday disappointment to mom problems.
The second story, “This Kind of Happiness,” was even darker and more absorbing than the previous one. When a young woman takes a pregnancy test that comes up positive, she and her boyfriend are forced to examine their place on the threshold between carefree youth and the “standard expectations” of married-with-children adulthood. The inner monologues and private thoughts of the girl serve as the narration, bringing many truths to the table that are as uncomfortable as they are worthy of examination.
Next came Kellie Wells, a prolific author and, in the words of Prewitt, a woman whose career has taken “a circuitous route” from a distinguished education across various universities to working in public television and beyond. Her website’s bio says she was born in 1872, but she doesn’t look a day over 35.
Wells read from her novel, “Fat Girl, Terrestrial.” The main character, Wallace Armstrong, is an implausibly tall woman who investigates crime scenes by recreating them in miniature form. The chapter Wells chose, “Rudy in the Park,” evidenced a story brimming with real-world honesty and a hint of magical realism. In this chapter, a flashback, nine-year-old Wallace betrays a desire to be seen as normal, even vulnerable, in reaction to her towering size; she fantasizes about being kidnapped, eventually offering to pay a homeless man to do the deed. To call “Fat Girl, Terrestrial” strange and fascinating would be an understatement.
Both Hollander and Wells displayed precise, creative prose, and their readings were applauded warmly by the students and faculty in attendance. Their books can be previewed or purchased on Amazon or on their individual websites: jessicahollanderwriter.com and kelliewells.com.