Tagged with mary karr

Opening day of the Trying to Say God conference

After a two hour trip on the South Shore Railroad (“The most uncomfortable seats on rails”™), I ended up at the South Bend Airport (“both taxis in South Bend are already here”™) and made my way to A selection of books from presenters at the Notre Dame bookstore otre Dame University for the “Trying to Say God” conference. This is a conference whose animating spirit is “revitalizing Catholic literature.” As a Catholic writer who has some works that could reasonably be termed “Catholic literature” this is something of interest to me and since the conference was relatively inexpensive ($75), I decided to go and see what they had to say.

The conference was apparently begun out of some envy at the fact that the evangelicalsJonathan Ryan (L), Ken Garcia (R) have been beating the Catholics at the literary festival thing for quite some time now. This is meant to be the first in a biennial series of conferences with the conference to return in 2019 in Toronto.

The opening talk came from Bishop Daniel Flores who spoke on the role of artists in the church and was one of those rare statements by a bishop that referenced both Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings.

Bishop Flores later presided over the conference mass at the Basilica of the IMG 2207Sacred Heart which aside from its beautiful architecture also had a heated holy water font, something I’d never encountered before. I can see that being really nice for baptisms.

The eveMary Karrning keynote was Mary Karr who appeared via teleconference thanks to a back injury. Despite being in so much pain she couldn’t walk, she was still an engaging speaker (plus we got a peek at her office complete with cross and bust of Beethoven).

She told those gathered to read stuff by great authors who’ve written about God, giving as examples, Rumi, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dorothy Day, C. S. Lewis and Frederick Buechner. “The secret to writing about God is the same as the secret to finding God—reaching those broken parts within ourselves.”

Karr went on to say that she prays before she writes, “just give me one good sentence,” and revealed a bit of advice she was given, “What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” which she hates because now she has to ask it of herself all the time.

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A year of reading

So in 2013, I ended up reading a total of 114 books. Some interesting statistics along the way: 

27.2% were written by women. Asians and Latinos each made up 2.6%. Blacks were 1.8%. I find these numbers to be rather disgraceful.

40.4% were for my MFA. 

Two were in Spanish.

Eleven were translated (from French, Hungarian, German, Ukrainian, Russian and Japanese if you must know).

Fiction made up 57.9% of the year’s reading. Poetry made up 2.6%.

And my top reads of the year, alphabetically by title:

It’s interesting to note that whenever I’ve done these end of year lists, I never have a set number that I’m aiming for. Interestingly, though, I consistently end up picking about 10% of the books that I’ve read.

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