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Novelist Perrotta headlines LITFest

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first_imgLITFest, Harvard’s celebration of the written word, returns this weekend with readings, panels, and workshops featuring literary voices in fiction, nonfiction, oral storytelling, poetry, and television. The festival begins Friday and ends Saturday in a conversation with novelist Tom Perrotta, author of “The Leftovers,” and Nick Cuse ’13, who writes for the adapted version of the work for HBO television with Perrotta. The talk will begin at 7 p.m. in Fong Auditorium, Boylston Hall.The two authors, along with Bret Johnston, head of Harvard’s Creative Writing program, spoke with the Gazette about what goes on in a writers’ room, why writing isn’t a special-occasion activity, and what about the television show improves on the book.GAZETTE: How did you learn to write?PERROTTA: I’ve had much more of an old-school writing education. I took a lot of undergrad classes, and then got my M.F.A. at Syracuse in the mid-1980s with Tobias Wolff. I came out expecting to be a fiction writer full time, which I did for a number of years. I also taught creative writing at Yale and at Harvard Extension School for a number of years. My challenge was figuring out how to balance my life as a writer with life as teacher. About 15 years ago, I stopped teaching and switched to screenwriting, in addition to my work as a novelist.CUSE: My experience was different. I grew up making movies with my friends right when you could first get a cheap video camera and edit a movie on your computer. That was my hobby. We would conceptualize and write stuff down and film and edit all together. There was something appealing to me about going to school and studying that wasn’t directly continuing from that. I studied English, which was reading and analytical, but I also took fiction with Bret Johnston. A lot had been in my mind, telling stories through little videos that I had never thought of in a more academic way. I’ve been able to apply the way we discussed prose to what I do now, which is again making videos, although they’re a little more expensive now if they’re for HBO. It came full circle.JOHNSTON: When you’re watching a show like “The Leftovers,” you feel like you’re getting as much from literature as what you get from television because these writers have a background in fiction. It converges in a way that feels like where we are in the culture at large. TV is in such a great place because it has so many sophisticated writers making it. When I think back to Nick in class, I remember how incredibly astute he was in the way he read other people’s stories and offered suggestions on how things could be fixed. Week by week, I watched him inhabiting himself as a writer more and more fully.PERROTTA: That happened at the show as well. He started as the assistant in the writers’ room. It’s an entry-level and mostly silent position. In three years, he became a very important colleague in the room and changed the course of the show in very crucial ways. I was the oldest person in the room, and Nick was the youngest. In the end, I don’t think it mattered to either of us.GAZETTE: Tom, what was it like to take your novel from the solitary experience of author to a room full of writers who would define it as a TV show?PERROTTA: When I wrote the book, I knew I wanted to turn it into a TV series. It felt like the natural place where I didn’t have to shove my novel into a feature film format. I was coming from a realistic literary tradition, and Damon Lindelof (co-creator of the TV adaptation) is a very much pop-culture guy. It was such an act of faith on both our parts to find a voice that could include all of the influences we were bringing. It wasn’t always easy to do. There were moments of frustration — that’s what collaboration is. “The Leftovers” the show is very different from the book. Yet parts of the book remain strong throughout. Nick knows there were rocky moments along the way, but all the struggles were ultimately for the benefit of the show.The writers were such a revelation to me. Everyone had to explain his/her choices in real time. We’d reach a fork in the road [where] you could go this way or that way, and then someone might come in with a third way. I would be interested in making a class out of a writers’ room. People could learn a lot over watching other writers think and argue over choices.CUSE: People tend to leave out of their imagination one aspect of what a writers’ room is like — which is the time spent laughing and joking with each other. You feel very close to these people, which allows you to share and take risks with your ideas. I didn’t think of Tom as the writer of the book, which, I think, is a huge compliment. It requires a tremendous amount of generosity to not let people think of you as author of this book. It was a level playing field, which is why it was such a successful collaboration.PERROTTA: I did feel like I had to argue for my ideas the same way everyone else did. There were times people had great ideas that made me wish I could go back to the novel. I’ll give you one example: In season one, there were these “Loved One” dolls people use to grieve. They’re very accurate computer-assisted replicas of people who disappeared. In any case, they originated as a world-building exercise where we tried to imagine all sorts of social changes caused by the “sudden departure.” The “Loved Ones” were such a cool idea that we went back to them again and again over the course of the season, and used them prominently in the finale.GAZETTE: Where do you find emotional gravitas in a story?PERROTTA: Some writers live in their private worlds, but I am somebody who does try to react in real time to current events. The book “Election” emerged from the 1992 election, and “Little Children” was inspired by a national debate about sex offenders and their place in the community. “The Leftovers” had its roots in both public and private events. I was reacting to 9/11 and the economic collapse of 2008, while also dealing with the emotional fallout from my father’s sudden death in a car accident. I also write from obsession, things I can’t stop thinking about.CUSE: I’m a little more looking outward to inward. I’m a fairly curious guy, and I read and watch a lot of stuff, looking for things that are interesting and stick in my head. If they stick in my head, then I know they are personal to me in some way. The idea of them lingering compels me to put them in a story.GAZETTE: We are only days into the Trump administration, and these seem like surreal times. How are you thinking about events in terms of your art?PERROTTA: “The Leftovers” is, in one way, a critique of apocalyptic thinking. We have been obsessed that something terrible was about to happen, that there was a collective loss — of faith, of art, of climate, of viruses, all these artistic expressions — and our future was no longer guaranteed. Everybody feels the apocalypse is on the way, but the world looks the same. I feel the world has caught up with us.CUSE: I think about the Eden collapse myth — that there was a garden where everything was perfect, and we messed it up. There’s something so attractive about that story. The good times are over, and now it’s bad times. That story has always been a successful story to tell. And its magnetic pull is particularly strong now. But any version of the future is a story because we don’t know what it is going to be yet.PERROTTA: [President] Trump was telling it from another standpoint. Let’s go back to that perfect time. We’re all looking at the same narrative but from different places on the timeline. For Trump voters, that was their paradise. It was their mythical time that allowed you to take care of your family. Any story about a glorified past has deep roots.GAZETTE: What is your advice for young writers, especially when they are struggling with writing?PERROTTA: You can see it in the different paths we took. I would encourage young writers to not get too hung up on one format over another. There are all sorts of ways to be a writer right now, so jump around. Learn to treat writing as a job. Separate it from something you do on special occasions when you feel inspired. It’s work. It’s wonderful work, but the sooner you treat it as work, the faster you’ll become a real writer.CUSE: Schedule your writing in advance. If it’s in your schedule and you follow your schedule, it solves a lot of your problems, [including] writer’s block, which maybe wasn’t really there in the first place. It helps me to ask myself, “What do I really like?” or “What book or movie am I excited about when it’s coming out?” It gets me excited to think about what makes me more productive.last_img read more

Key strengths of Liverpool’s title winners

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first_imgLiverpool were crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years on Thursday with seven matches remaining, having turned the English Premier League title race into a procession.They have smashed records along the way and more could follow, including most wins, most points and the biggest winning margin. It will go down as a season for the ages, but what makes Juergen Klopp’s side such an unstoppable force?All truly great sides are constructed on unshakeable foundations and Liverpool are no exception.When Manchester City splashed out 35 million pounds ($43.39 million) on goalkeeper Ederson in 2017, it raised eyebrows.But a year later, Liverpool paid nearly double that for another Brazilian shot-stopper, Alisson Becker.It was a masterstroke. Alisson kept 21 clean sheets last season as Liverpool and Manchester City went head-to-head in an epic title race, more than any other goalkeeper.He leads the way again with 12 this time in spite of being out injured early in the season.Alisson exudes calm, distributes the ball like a cultured libero and makes the difficult look remarkably routine.In front of him, Dutch centre-back Virgil van Dijk has been a colossus since joining from Southampton in 2018.Rarely can a defensive signing have made such an incredible impact. Van Dijk’s ability to pick a pass means Liverpool can turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye.And when it comes to defensive basics, he does everything with rare grace.In front of Van Dijk is Liverpool’s engine block.Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho, with James Milner as a reliable back-up, provide the relentless intensity opposing sides find so suffocating.RelatedPosts Lampard: I still have confidence in Tomori Mane double eases Liverpool to win over 10-man Chelsea EPL: Chelsea, Liverpool in cagey duel Without them working in unison, Liverpool’s attacking maestros could not flourish.When the mercurial Philippe Coutinho left for FC Barcelona in 2018, some feared Liverpool’s creative spark would fade.Instead, they have flourished.Klopp’s early Liverpool sides often came unstuck against the “low block” when lesser opponents sat in deep and let Liverpool pass themselves into knots.Then something happened.Youth product Trent Alexander-Arnold established himself as first-choice right-back and left-back Andy Robertson joined from Hull for a paltry eight million pounds.Operating like well-oiled pistons on each flank, they are arguably the best full-back pairing in the world, providing pace, penetration and creativity to open up even the most limpet-like defensive rearguards.Alexander-Arnold is second behind only Manchester City magician Kevin de Bruyne in the assist charts this season with 12, while Robertson is fourth on the list with eight.In Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino Liverpool possess an attacking trio that is almost impossible to contain.As well as searing pace and lethal finishing prowess, Salah and Mane are a midfielder’s dream with their intelligent runs.Salah and Mane have bagged 32 league goals between them this season, while the Klopp’s modern-day number nine Firmino is the unsung hero, running himself into the ground for the cause.Klopp has ingrained a sense of collective responsibility at Liverpool – a characteristic of all great sides.But skipper Jordan Henderson is their talisman.It took him an age to come out of the more naturally-gifted Steven Gerrard’s shadow.Even now, football analysis website transfermarkt.co.uk puts the 30-year-old down at 13th when comparing market values of Liverpool’s squad.But his contribution is priceless.Henderson’s passing range has expanded, his energy is relentless and above all he will not tolerate a dip in standards from his teammates.Henderson shuns the limelight but no captain will be more worthy of raising the Premier League trophy aloft.Reuters/NAN.Tags: English Premier League ChampionsEPLJurgen KloppLiverpoolStrengthslast_img read more

Volleyball Splits Season Opening Matches At FAU Invitational

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first_img vs. UNF Box Score (PDF) Preview Live Stats Full Schedule Roster vs. NU Box Score (PDF) Story Links vs. Bethune-Cookman 8/27/2016 – 3:30 PM vs. UNF Box Score (HTML) Next Game: vs. NU Box Score (HTML) BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Drake University volleyball team split a pair of matches to open the 2016 season at the FAU Invitational on Friday, Aug. 26. The Bulldogs opened play with a 3-1 victory over Northeastern in the morning, followed by a 3-2 loss to North Florida in the afternoon.Junior Kyla Inderski (Urbandale, Iowa) led the Bulldogs with 38 combined kills in the two matches via a career-high 19 in each match. In the loss to UNF she added 16 digs for a double-double. Veteran setter Chandelle Davidson (Gretna, Neb.) had 52 assists in the two matches while Michelle Thommi (Omaha, Neb.) recorded 35 digs.Drake opened the day by defeating Northeastern, 25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 25-20. Inderski’s 19 kills came on 46 attempts for a .283 attack percentage while Makena Schoene (Seattle, Wash.) added 14 kills. Capris Quaites (Omaha, Neb.) saw her first action in nearly a year due to injury and combined with newcomer Kameo Pope (Belle Plaine, Iowa) to contribute on nine of the Bulldogs’ nine team blocks.The first set against the Huskies featured 11 ties and five lead changes to account for a 17-17 tie before the Bulldogs scored eight of the last 12 points  with a pair of kills from Schoene sealing the set. Drake jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the second set and never let up in leading the rest of way to take the set, 25-19, before Northeastern rallied back in the third set, 25-18. Early in the fourth set, three errors by the Huskies gave Drake an 8-4 lead that quickly expanded to 12-5 courtesy of more errors. NU pulled back within one point until a 4-0 run gave Drake a 23-17 lead that it used to coast to the 25-20 win in the set to take the match, 3-1.Inderski and Schoene led the Bulldogs in the second game of the day with 19 and 13 kills, respectively, while Pope added nine blocks as Drake held a 14.5-11 advantage in blocks in the 20-25, 22-25, 23-25, 26-24, 10-15 loss. UNF took the first two sets, 25-20 and 25-22 , before Drake rallied to take the third set, 25-23. That set featured 10 ties until, with the score knotted at 22-22, Schoene and Inderski rattled off back-to-back kills via passes from Davidson. UNF answered the two-point deficit with a kill but Quaites ended the set with a kill to give the Bulldogs the set, 25-23. The fourth set was another back-and-forth affair as Drake tried to extend the match. Facing match point at 23-24, Inderski hammered two kills to put the Bulldogs on top while Davidson closed the set with an ace for the 26-24 win to force a fifth set. However, that fifth set was owned by the Ospreys as UNF jumped out to a 10-1 lead. Despite the nearly insurmountable lead, the Bulldogs tried to battle back with a 5-0 run that pulled Drake within four points, 13-9, but could get no closer as UNF took the set, 15-10, and match, 3-2.The Bulldogs return to action for the second day of the FAU Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 26, with an 11 a.m. match against the hosts, FAU and a 3:30 p.m. match against Bethune-Cookman.Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more