VOICES Reading: Matt Burgess

On Thursday, Oct. 11, Matt Burgess read to students as part of the VOICES Series. He was low-key, with rectangular glasses, sneakers matched with a black dress coat, and a wonderful sense of humor. So far Burgess has written two books and is about to publish his third.

He prefaced the reading of the gritty novel “Dogfight: A Love Story” with a bit from his upcoming novel “Uncle Jenson.” “Dogfight” is about a “19-year-old drug dealer named Alfredo and his friend Winston who need to steal a pit-bull for a dog fight while also dealing with Alfredo’s newly-released-from-prison brother.” As Burgess explained during the question and answer session, he based the characters on his own friends. Burgess read the excerpt with a clear voice that really brought out the writing style and the subject matter to life.

The novel, published in 2011, is written in present tense which makes it more involved to the reader.

Following is an excerpt from the novel (as provided by Barnes and Noble): “In the middle of Alfredo Batista’s brain there is a tall gray filing cabinet, frequently opened. The drawers are deep, the folders fattened with a lifetime of regrettable moments. There is, tucked away toward the back, a list of women whose phone numbers he never asked for. There are the debts accrued. In the bottom drawer, in separate folders, there are the things he never learned to do: drive an automobile, throw a knuckleball, tie a knot in a cherry stem using only his tongue. What else? In the top drawer, there is a file recounting the evening he left the Mets game early, thinking the run deficit insurmountable. There is the why-didn’t-I-wear-a-condom folder. There is—this one’s surprisingly thin—the crimes-against-my-brother folder… All it takes is a random word, a face in passing, and a memory blooms, a cabinet drawer slides open.”

Burgess had copies of “Dogfight” for sale where he also autographed them and answered more questions. One of the attendees, Hannah, said the reading was “great, funny, and surprising” and that Burgess was “a down-to-earth writer who is modest and very entertaining.” Overall, it was a very successful reading and everyone there seemed to enjoy Burgess’ unique writing style.

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