By Peter Richter
Author Ben Greenman helped guide prospective writers during his lecture Feb. 12, hosted by Writer’s Block, a creative writing group dedicated to enhancing Rider’s literary life by hosting readings and workshops.
The talk took place in the Spitz Theater, which lent an intimate atmosphere for the aspiring writers to get to know this established Renaissance man.
As the editor of the Non-Fiction section of The New Yorker, Greenman deals with different subject matter than his own writings.
Born in Chicago and well-traveled, Greenman incorporates an American style in his subject matter and character development.
Greenman is the author of several acclaimed books of fiction, including Superbad, Superworse and A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love.
Non-fiction, he said, is a more formatted form in which the experimental doesn’t have a firm foothold, despite its new marriage to fiction. The literary arts are ever-shifting and writers are experimenting with forms. Greenman stretched the limits in his newest book, titled Correspondences.
Correspondences is a limited-edition book of letters written by Greenman. It is a handmade book with folds, cases and accordion-style stories. Making it even more distinctive are the blank postcards that readers can add on to the story and send in to be part of a formal version of the book, coming out later this year. Greenman read a letter from Correspondences that he admitted was loosely based on his own experiences growing up and finding his way in life.
After the reading, the crowd asked him a series of questions in which they aimed to gain knowledge of the writing process and explore his views on literature today and what inspired him. This one night left students with a different perspective of contemporary literature.
Greenman acted as a mentor to the eager group of fledging writers and some established professors. When asked what his favorite job was, he said simply that it was his first job as a journalist at a small Miami magazine. He lived in a cramped apartment with little money and just spent his time writing.
Contemporary literature is a form that is constantly changing and Greenman is an example of a writer on the cutting edge of it all.