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Arts & Culture

Winter With the Writers showcases a lively mix

Rollins’ annual literary festival aims to strike a balance between ‘excitement and disquiet’

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

Charles Simic

Photo: , License: N/A

Justin Cronin

Justin Cronin, Feb. 13
Master class 4 p.m., Bush Auditorium | Reading, on-stage interview and book signing 7:30 p.m., Bush Auditorium

Justin Cronin is an interesting choice for WWW, generally a highbrow affair. Cronin, on the other hand, is an author who moved from literary fiction (the New York Times called his debut “subtle and beautifully realized”) to genre fiction (the New York Times called his first vampire novel “overwritten and overrated … preposterously self-important”). Colson Whitehead, another author who’s crossed the aisle, has called that attitude “other people’s labels; other people’s hang-ups.” Cronin may be able more than any of the other WWW visitors to answer students’ knottier, more modern questions of credibility and authenticity.

Alan Michael Parker, Feb. 20
Master class 2 p.m., Winter Park Plaza 330 | Reading, on-stage interview and book signing 7:30 p.m., Bush Auditorium

Alan Michael Parker shares with Cronin the resistance to labels. Equally assured – and equally prolific – in poetry and the short story form, Parker splits the difference in his latest collection, written in the ultra-brief, concentrated bursts known as flash fiction. He will share time on stage at his reading with Laura van den Berg, also a short-story writer, but Parker has a rare fluidity for a writer with so many publications under his belt: seven collections of poetry and three novels, one of which is a linked collection of 99 flash-fiction “fables.”

Laura van den Berg, Feb. 20
Master class 4 p.m., Bush Auditorium | Reading, on-stage interview and book signing 7:30 p.m., Bush Auditorium


Short-story writer Laura van den Berg may have only two published books thus far, but both of them featured prominently on critics’ best-of-year lists. (In our Jan. 15 review of van den Berg’s second collection, The Isle of Youth, our critic called it the best book of 2013.) There’s an extra level of joy in van den Berg’s WWW appearance: She is a graduate of Rollins’ Hamilton Holt School who grew up in the area (and lets it color her work), and while she’s here she’ll present the van den Berg Award for writing, a cash award to a WWW intern enrolled in Holt.

Madison Smartt Bell, Feb. 27
Master class 4 p.m., Bush Auditorium | Reading, on-stage interview and book signing 7:30 p.m., Bush Auditorium

Don’t let Madison Smartt Bell’s august collection of work, a veritable doorstop of print – more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction – dismay you; his references are fresh and right-on, with no discernible creep of out-of-touchness. The blues guitarist, creative writing professor, novelist, writer of historical fiction, essayist, short-story writer and biographer even gave away his last book for free (Zig-Zag Wanderer, a collection of short stories titled for his favorite Captain Beefheart song). Understanding – and creatively confronting – the paradigm shifts of the digital age? It doesn’t get much more modern.

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