Author Diana Joseph reads part of unreleased novel to students

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Instead of reading her award-winning memoir, “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way: The Astonishing but True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man and Dog,” Diana Joseph granted DePauw an opportunity to hear the unreleased sequel entitled, “Bullets Going Through Objects in Slow Motion,” Wednesday night in Peeler Auditorium.

About 70 students filled the auditorium to hear Joseph, the 2010 winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, read an excerpt from her unreleased novel, named after a video game she used to watch her son play. The unfinished book details the emotional and psychological experiences Joseph faced after her last marriage, while disclosing her close relationship with her son. Although the novel reveals tragic real-life events, Joseph’s hilarious writing tone quickly lightened the mood and filled the audience with constant outbursts of laugher.

“I like absurdity,” Joseph said, when asked about her writing style. “Taking something that’s absurd and putting it near something that’s serious kind of enhances absurdity.”

Joseph gave no specific time for releasing the novel, saying it unfolds situations she’s currently dealing with in her life.

“It’s hard for me to write about a house that’s on fire while the house is on fire,” she said.

Joseph is well-known for her many non-fiction contributions. She released her first book, “Happy or Otherwise,” through Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2003. Her second and latest novel “I’m Sorry You Feel that Way” was published in 2009. Joseph’s work is honored in the Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize. She currently teaches in the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program at Minnesota State University.

After the reading, Joseph answered question ranging from her personal life to her career life and offered advice to aspiring writers.

“You have to read and write,” she said. “And after you’ve written and revised at least a thousand pages, you will have something figured out about writing.”

DePauw students said they enjoyed the reading, especially Joseph’s humorous personality.

“She’s so hilarious,” said freshman Bri’anna Moore, who was there for a class. “I haven’t read her book yet, but I’m definitely going to buy it now.”

Freshman Katie Lotz agreed.

“She’s an entertaining writer,” she said. “I actually came to the reading because I casually saw the poster and thought the title of her book was funny.” 

Emily Doak, chair of the Kelly Writers Series, said additional popular writers will soon visit DePauw. On Wednesday, Apr. 6, poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg, who was English professor Andrea Sununu’s student, will read her book “Heavenly Questions” in Peeler Auditorium. The Kelly Writers Series will also welcome novelist and short story writer Jennifer Egan to DePauw on Wednesday, Apr 27, to read latest book, “A Visit from the Goon Squad.”

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