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ABR speaker says writing is like sculpting

By Carolina Astrain
Sept. 13, 2012 at 4:13 a.m.
Updated Sept. 14, 2012 at 4:14 a.m.

Author Steve Tomasula talks to students from St. Joseph High School on Thursday about why he got into writing, at the University of Houston-Victoria.

The author balanced the red paperback in his left hand as he slowly chanted, "One dollar," about a dozen times.

His chanting was met with laughter at the American Book Review Fall Reading Series at the Alcorn Auditorium on Thursday afternoon.

Steve Tomasula, an associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, read to a room spilling over with University of Houston-Victoria students, faculty and teenagers from St. Joseph High School.

Dean of Arts & Sciences Jeffery DiLeo sat in an armchair a few feet away from the author.

"The local high schools are more than welcome to the readings," DiLeo said. "That's the kind of model that the reading series should be."

Prior to the reading, the creative writing students from St. Joseph were assigned to write a story similar to Tomasula's "In&Oz."

"It was hard," said Morgan Robertson, a senior. "We had to rename the characters in the story and create our cities. The cities had to be named two or three letters long at the most."

Junior Barclay Proctor said he was impressed by the use of rhetoric in Tomasula's writing.

"I like the elevator description," Proctor said. "Something can look great on the surface, but the underbelly can be completely different."

Tomasula said "In&Oz" was something he'd stop and play with when he'd get frustrated writing his longer novel, "VAS: An Opera in Flatland."

"This book is probably the most autobiographical book for me," Tomasula said. "I'm writing about real places even though I'm writing about them in allegorical ways."

Humanities major Dominic Raybon had to ask for change for a $20 when attempting to purchase a copy of the author's latest book.

"Honestly, if anybody reads me a book, I'll buy it," Raybon said. "I'm a big fan of wordplay."

In the Q&A portion of the lecture, the author said his approach to writing is a lot like sculpting.

"Just as you would build a building," Tomasula said. "You would make a book only you're making it out of words instead of some other material."

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