On Thursday, Sept. 13, in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC), author E. J. Levy began the 2012-2013 VOICES Series by reading her short story, “Theory of Dramatic Action” at 8:15 p.m.
The seats in DPC were completely full—some chairs had to be added to the audience—and students were there for a number of reasons, ranging from fulfilling a requirement, to attending because a friend encouraged them to go, to being interested in the author and her works.
Sophomore Lindsey Leitera, on why she went to the reading, said, “I’m in a creative writing class, so I came to get another perspective, and it’s also a requirement.”
On another end of the spectrum, senior Marty McGowan said, “I am very uninformed about the author. To be honest, my roommate asked me about five minutes ago if I wanted to come to this.”
As the evening began, Levy was introduced by Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black, of the English Department. Professor Cognard-Black described Levy as being “like a blue moon, both special and rare,” and like a “minor deity,” because by the time she had reached graduate school, she had already been published.
“Theory of Dramatic Action,” a piece that follows a young woman who is in the process of coming to terms with her sexuality and her career path, is one of the many short stories in Levy’s newest compilation of works, Love, In Theory; it draws upon a variety of scholarly theories to bring the ideas of thought and love together. Levy attempted to convey the importance of the linking of heart and mind, a link which she claims has been forgotten.
The message of Love, In Theory is a response to the view that art is seen as categorical. Levy said, “Art is not categorical. Everything is up for grabs.” Speaking to this theme, the book that she is currently working on delves into the Enlightenment period in addition to Romantic theories.
At the conclusion of the reading, Levy opened the floor to questions, one of which addressed her writing process. She said she always takes notes in a notebook (even while driving). She added, “When an idea comes to you, it could be nice to have something at hand.”
When asked why she chose to read the piece that she did, Levy responded, “Almost to dare myself. I like to shock people. I read this last week and someone walked out.”
When the evening drew to a close, students were pleasantly surprised and had positive reactions to the reading. McGowan, who had originally tagged along with his roommate, ended up “really enjoying it.”
Junior Kevin Koeser commented, “I thought it was really well done. She engaged me a lot. It got me really interested in reading the rest of the stories she wrote. Her tone was really even, and it caused her dry humor to stand out more and it emphasized the more dramatic moments.” In addition to his appreciation for Levy’s contribution to the series, Koeser bought Love, In Theory and personally had it signed.Love, In Theory, which is now available to the public, was sold for $20 in the back corner of the main room in DPC. Levy enjoyed speaking with St. Mary’s students and other attendees, and even offered to sign copies of her book that were purchased.