Lichtenstein’s Novel, Lost, Garnering National AcclaimMarch 25, 2010
Hartwick College Lecturer in English Alice Lichtenstein recently published her second novel, Lost (Scribner's), and the work is already attracting positive critical attention from coast to coast.
Lost explores the elements of what unifies us despite boundaries of class and education--elements that include the leveling experiences of loss, of sorrow, and of love. Three disparate lives intersect one weekend in early January in rural upstate New York when a man, suffering from dementia, wanders from home one frigid morning and is found, dead, by a young boy.
On Friday, March 26, Lichtenstein recorded an interview with National Public Radio's "The Book Show," and Lost was featured in the "Great Reads" section of People magazine the same week. For Lichtenstein, whose March 18 reading and book signing filled Oneonta's Green Toad bookstore beyond capacity, being a working novelist is a source of great gratitude.
"As incredibly gratifying as it is to be published, the real joy for me is doing the writing," she explained. "I'm not someone who subscribes to the idea that a writer has to be insane, alcoholic, or anything like that. Writing is, for me, an extreme pleasure and a refuge, and I feel very grateful that I have circumstances in which I can do the writing."
Lichtenstein, who teaches introductory creative writing courses at Hartwick, graduated from Brown University and was named the Boston University Fellow in Creative Writing, where she earned her M.A. degree. She has received a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in Fiction and has twice been a Fellow at the prestigious MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH. Teaching, she said, allows her to share the gift of a writerly worldview with her students.
"I present myself to my students as a working writer," she explained. "Even though I have taught for many years in many schools, I say 'I am not a professor.' I usually insist on being called Alice. I say 'I am a writer, and I love to teach, so I'm teaching. I'm not an English professor. I don't come from the academy. This is your semester when you're working with a writer.'
"I invite my students to think of the courses I teach as a semester when they are going to be writers," Lichtenstein continued. "They go though the semester with acute hearing, unbelievable curiosity, great eavesdropping ability, and tremendous sensitivity to language. It's a different skin. Because I do go through the world as a writer, because I am a writer, I can offer that to them."
While Lichtenstein has given much to her students, her Hartwick colleagues have lent her their expertise. Assistant Professor of Education Betsey Bloom was an early and important reader of the book, and Professor of Biology Stan Sessions provided critical insight into operating upon the brain of a newt, which became an important metaphor in Lost.
As she continues to promote her novel--something Lichtenstein said "no writer in this day and age can afford not to do"--she also is talking up independent book stores like The Green Toad, which she calls on her blog "the writers' and readers' best friend."
Lost is available now at independent book sellers, as well as at major national chains and online.
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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three Year Bachelor’s Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.
Contact: Christopher Lott