George Saunders in the Forest At Night

March 14, 2017, by

rmfoto.com-79On March 6th, George Saunders made his third appearance with the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, in order to celebrate a first—his only novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, just debuted #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

To tour the book, Saunders has partnered with local actors in different cities to stage readings of the text. He borrowed performers from Houston’s own Alley Theatre—an experience he compared to driving a Lamborghini—for a scene in a graveyard haunted by two of his characters. Appropriately enough, the reading shared the stage with an eerie woodland set for the theater’s current production, Let the Right One In.

rmfoto.com-121Novelist  and Director of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program Alex Parsons interviewed Saunders, whose humane wit set the tone for the evening. “We’re just a couple of guys in the forest at night,” he said, settling into a chair wedged between the scenery. Continue reading

Rabih Alameddine & Juan Gabriel Vásquez talk about fiction teaching empathy and guarding our memories

December 6, 2016, by

Rabih at podiumOn November 21st, the Alley Theatre was already decked for the holidays. A grove of themed trees in the lobby welcomed the Inprint Margaret Root Brown Reading Series for the final performance of the year. Inside, Rabih Alameddine and Juan Gabriel Vásquez read from their novels on the dormant set of A Christmas Carol, and artificial flurries escaped from their rigging throughout.

Though the theater looked towards Christmas, both Alameddine and Vásquez spoke towards the gratitude and displacement so many of us experience on the Thanksgiving weekend, whether or not we return home or reconnect with loved ones. Their words were melancholy and reflective. Alameddine’s The Angel of History spoke of loneliness and makeshift family; the narrator tells his lost love, “you left me roofless in a downpour.” Vásquez prefaced his reading by explaining the words he would read were not his own, and while he thanked his translator, compared the experience to reading someone else’s work. Continue reading

Donald Barthelme’s Snow White comes to the stage

November 8, 2016, by

Snow White for eblast image004While most of us will focus on electoral theatrics until late Tuesday, The Catastrophic Theatre, Inprint, and Brazos Bookstore will be there to raise the curtains, come what may, on Wednesday night.

In partnership with Inprint and Brazos Bookstore, Catastrophic Theatre will give a staged reading of Donald Barthelme’s novel Snow White this Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 pm. The performance will take place at Brazos Bookstore, and is free and open to the public. Join us if you can, and stay tuned—this is only a preview of the complete adaptation set to run next year!

The full production will open in early April to honor Donald Barthelme, who played a key role in establishing Houston as a vital center for the literary arts. Inprint Executive Director Rich Levy recalled the piece as read by the Alley Theatre actors, which he described as “brilliant and funny and irreverent [..].” He felt a full adaptation would be an ideal way to bring the author’s fans together, and “Luckily,” he told us, “Katharine Barthelme [Barthelme’s daughter] and Greg Dean (of Catastrophic) were equally thrilled!” Continue reading

Lauren Groff & Ann Patchett charm audiences at Inprint reading

October 21, 2016, by

RM3_3546Last Monday night, the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series brought award-winning writers Lauren Groff and Ann Patchett to the Alley Theatre. Trying to find a seat in the sold-out crowd, I ran into a friend from my graduate program. We fell into a sudden and deep discussion about marriage, and what it means when only one rather than both members of a couple are able to pursue the career of their choice. How can you decide whose vocation will shape a family’s life?

RM3_3593Both of the featured novels that night, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, concern the consequences of marriage, either maintained or dissolved, and the discussion that followed revealed the depth with which both writers have entertained questions similar to our own.

Groff introduced her reading by describing the composition of Fates and Furies, which examines a marriage from husband Lotto’s perspective before we hear from his wife Mathilde. As moments and phrases leapt to mind, Groff says she darted from her desk to record them on butcher paper hung from the wall, one for each character. Her startling language and sharp sense of the absurd was a perfect complement to Ann Patchett’s reading, which featured a large cast of Benadryl-tripping, gin-stealing, gun-toting kids whose families have been recombined by their parents’ changed relationships. In her selected passage, they mistake their longing to spend summer at a nearby lake as the source of their dislocation and sorrow. Continue reading