by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & R & lt;/span & eading is usually a solitary pursuit; Get Lit! makes it interactive. & r & & r & When books first come into our hands -- from the library, from Auntie's, from Uncle Jeremy -- and we read them and get asked about them, our replies often fall along the lines of "They talked about the funeral parlor business" or "It listed 10 ways that dictatorships get started."
"They" and "it": There's no thought of the author here, not really. The book may as well have been written by committee, or by a rock.
But pick up a memoir or a collection of poems with the awareness that, in a few days, you're going to be face to face with the likes of Dorianne Laux or Tobias Wolff, and it's a whole new literary ball game. You read and reread passages, wondering what they sound like in the author's voice. And you'll get to hear it. You pose questions, in the margins and in your mind, that might actually get answered.
It's like the anonymity of e-mail as opposed to a sociable conversation: Reading a book at arm's length encourages harsh, dismissive judgments. Listening to the person who labored over those words, though -- that's different, that's engaging. That's what changes reading from something solitary to something shared. And you're down to your last three chances.
That's because, in the 10th edition of Get Lit!, there are only three days left. At least they're the three most event-packed days.
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & F & lt;/span & riday starts with Thomas Lynch (The Undertaking) reading his poems at noon in EWU's Music Building. Lynch is a poet-undertaker, a writer who believes that we should live in the context of our deaths and a man who celebrated his father's life even as he embalmed his father's body.
On Friday afternoon from 1-4 pm at the Spokane Club, you can listen to readings by invited authors hailing from such places as UW, Linfield College and Sandpoint's Lost Horse Press and presenting poems about India, fiction about Turkey, nonfiction about Hawaii, and much more.
Friday night brings "An Evening of Poetry and Jazz," with three poets reading their work as bassist Glen Moore of Oregon (the jazz group) creates an introspective mood with his bass bowings and world-music influences.
On Saturday, the most jam-packed day of all, action continues at the Spokane Club. There are morning workshops on fiction, biography and poetry, along with an afternoon workshop for teen writers. Fiction and poetry with concerns ranging from Mexican immigrants to winemaking, from Southern eccentrics to girl detectives, will be presented in two afternoon sessions.
Two afternoon panels will explore "Getting Serious Books Published" and getting advice on how to deal with editors. In outlining the road to publication, Ivar Nelson of the EWU Press emphasizes "unifying your work around a core argument or theme, which will focus the work and help you clearly and simply describe it; identifying the presses that publish the type of work that you are doing; and finding someone who can be your advocate to that press and who has credibility with that press."
In the late afternoon at the Bing, Thomas Lynch will explore writing, funeral parlors, and writing about funeral parlors in "Undertaking Fiction." The featured event on Saturday night at the Bing involves Naomi Wolf holding forth on The End of America -- a Thomas Paine-style call to action which alerts readers to 10 methods that the Bush administration is using, in Wolf's view, to reduce or eliminate the liberty of American citizens.
And then finally, on Sunday afternoon at the Spokane Club -- in a conversation moderated by Jess Walter -- Tobias Wolff will take your questions about his short stories.
Those stories weren't written by a "they" or an "it." You'll see.
Visit www.ewu.edu/getlit or call 368-6587 or 325-SEAT.