The Aetna Celebration of Creative Non-Fiction welcomed a packed crowd Thursday evening at the UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center.
The event began with a reading from one of the two student winners of this years Aetna Non-Fiction Writing award, Stephanie Koo. Koo read from her award-winning story “Pieces of Po Po,” about her relationship with her grandmother. Her piece and others are featured in The Long River Review, UConn’s literary magazine.
Nationally renowned nonfiction author Ginger Strand made the night’s main event. Strand, author of four books and several published short stories and essays, started by reading from her essay, “Vonnegut on the Road,” which was published in literary magazine Tin House.
The essay takes on copyright in literature and follows Strand as she uncovers an unseen world of the literary legend Kurt Vonnegut.
As the essay goes, Strand found an unpublished manuscript, “The River Boys,” which details Vonnegut’s adventures as a sixteen-year-old boy. As Strand mentions in the essay, “The Rover Boys” would set the framework for several of his best selling novels down the road.
Strand believes “The Rover Boys” will be published one day, and uses her essay to enforce her belief that information should be free, describing on more than one occasion how stressful the 70-year copyright law can be for a nonfiction writer.
Emily Cantor, a senior who works for The Long River Review, found the event to be very informative.
“I enjoyed it. All the stuff about copyright, I didn’t know anything about that so that was very interesting to learn,” Cantor said.
A quick Q&A followed Strand’s reading. She described her strategies of writing and her view of herself as an author. Strand described her journey to becoming a nonfiction writer as “very strange.”
“I was a very geeky undergraduate and loved literature, so I went to a Ph.D. program in English literature,” Strand said.
After receiving her Ph.D., and working on her post doctorate, Strand realized academic writing wasn’t for her.
Strand eventually took a job as a copywriter in New York City, where she went on to publish her first novel “Flight.” After struggling to find a concept for her second novel, Strand found her calling in nonfiction.
“I kept cheating, it was like I was married to fiction, but was having an affair with nonfiction,” Strand said.
“Anything can happen [in non-fiction.] I like stories where everything is all there and I have to figure out how to tell it,” Strand said.
John Moreno is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.