Author George Saunders visits UWF
By Lauren Haggett, University Communications
The University of West Florida welcomed author George Saunders to campus on March 24 to speak to students about his writing accomplishments. Saunders is the author of three collections of short stories including the bestselling “Pastoralia,” “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” and “In Persuasion Nation.” “Pastoralia” and “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” were both New York Times Notable Books.
Students, faculty and members of the community gathered in the Music Hall at the University of West Florida’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts for a question-and-answer session followed by a public lecture and reading last Thursday.
“I’ve never seen an author in person before,” said Trevor Kildare, a senior at UWF majoring in English, when asked why he attended the event. “I’ve read a few of his essays in my various classes as well, so it made me want to come more.”
Most recently, Saunders published a book of essays called “The Braindead Megaphone,” which received critical acclaim and landed him spots on The Charlie Rose Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and The Colbert Report.
“The essay that stood out to me the most was “The Falls,” said Kildare. “Saunders left the ending open for interpretation, and I liked that a lot.”
“The Braindead Megaphone” was chosen for the 2010-11 UWF Common Read program and was incorporated into many freshmen classes starting last Fall. The Common Read Program was established as part of the Delphi Project, which is a residential and intellectual experience for incoming freshmen. The students seemed excited to have a practicing author visiting their college campus, especially since some students had read at least one of his essays in a class.
“It seemed to me that the students asked good questions at the event,” said Brooke Hardy, a graduate student at UWF studying English. “I think it is very important for authors to visit college campuses, particularly relatively smaller colleges like UWF. I would love to see more scholars and authors visit our campus.”
Saunders lives in New York and teaches at Syracuse University. At times, he spends two to three weeks in his room finishing a particular piece of work.
“One of my favorite things about visiting college campuses is meeting all the professors and students and getting to hear what people are talking about these days,” said Saunders. “The Florida sun is nice, too.”
When asked if he had any advice to offer aspiring writers or college students in general, he said, “Robert Frost once said: ‘Don’t worry, work.’ He followed with, “You can’t think your way to an answer, you must work your way to the answer.”