All of you writers out there should flock - FLOCK! - to hear novelist and screenwriter Richard Price speak about his work (novels Clockers and Lush Life, screenplays and teleplays The Color of Money, Shaft, The Wire) tomorrow night at Benaroya. Here's an excerpt from his most recent novel, Samaritan, about a writer named Ray who returns to his Bronx home to reconnect with his daughter and teach creative writing at his former high school. (Note: I transcribed this from this NPR interview, so it may not match the version in print.)
"This is great, great. Okay, this class, forget it, okay? Don’t even think of it as creative writing. It’s just stories. The writing assignments: stories, tellin’ stories. Can somebody wake this guy up?"
One of the girls punched the boy Jamal whose forehead was resting on the table. Ray so happy now, stories his lifelong lifeline, to his daughter, to romance, to himself, stories the ballast, the crash cart, the air.
"And the thing is, what are you, Hopewell projects kids? Neighborhood kids? Oh man, nobody out there knows what you know. What you may think of as, as everyday, as boring? That’s like, Nah. That’s, me? When I wanna read somethin’, a book, a story, a newspaper article. I’m thinking time is tight, why should I read this, what does this individual have to tell me that I don’t already know?”
Photo by Damon Winter, the New York Times
He then checked himself, something off in the message.
“Not that what you write has to be a showstopper, mind boggling, or you know, can you top this. All I am saying is, believe me, you are all so much more interesting, so much more special than you might think.
So every week, you’re gonna write me a few pages, doesn’t have to have a beginning or an end, just some kind of snapshot, word picture, bring it in and read it to the class, or I’ll read it for you and we’ll talk.
Jamal, the sleeper, raised his hand. Does spelling count. The girl with the big framed glasses, Myra, clucked her tongue in irritation.
“Spelling is good, it’s good to have spelling.”
His disappointment in the question was neutralized by this Myra. Something cooking there.
“Can we write in pencil?”
“Pencil, pen blood, as long as I can decipher it.”
“Does it have to be true?”
presented by Seattle Arts & Lectures @ Benaroya Hall
Tuesday, December 1st @ 7:30
More info at lectures.org