The final award-winning literary artist featured in the 2015/16 Author! Author! series is New York Times best-selling author Alice Hoffman, who will speak Thursday, May 26 at Bend High at 7 p.m.
The series began in October and included non-fiction, creative fiction, historical fiction and memoir authors, starting with Timothy Egan, 61, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of seven books. Elizabeth Gilbert, 46, author of "Eat, Pray, Love," and Lisa See, 61, author of "Snow Flower," were the second and third speakers. The series also included a special event with National Book Award winner James McBride and his jazz ensemble, the Good Lord Bird Band.
"Deschutes County's enthusiasm for the Author! Author! literary series shows that Central Oregon is a vital hub in the state's cultural and literary landscape," says project director Chantal Strobel, who adds that the series' success benefits the community in a number of ways. "The Author! Author! literary series promotes and strengthens community dialogue. We saw this clearly last season with authors Ann Patchett and Piper Kerman who engaged the audiences in provocative discussions. An additional perk is that the ticket sales proceeds are used to support and enhance library programs and services. It's a win-win for all!"
The Deschutes Public Library Foundation provided free tickets for up to 250 regional high school and community college students to attend the four author presentations and receive copies of the authors' books.
Hoffman, 64, is a career novelist who released her 25th novel, "Marriage of Opposites" in 2015. "The Museum of Extraordinary Things," released in 2014, was an instant bestseller. Hoffman's fiction includes such titles as "The Probable Future," published in 2003, and "Survival Lessons" a 2013 nonfiction work. Her novel "Blackbird House" was praised by the Boston Globe for its lush, figurative language evoking epics, ballads, odes and fairy tales.
Magic Realism literature and film, for which Hoffman is known, blends magical elements into a highly detailed realistic setting. It has traditionally been considered the territory of Latin American literature, (e.g. Isabel Allende, "The House of the Spirits"), though it is increasingly popular in American literature, TV and film. An implicit criticism of society is part of the genre as is the acceptance of the uncanny.
The term magic realism was coined by German art critic Franz Roh in 1925 in reference to an alternative to expressionism called New Objectivity. By 1927, realism magico was influencing Venezualan writer Arturo Uslar-Pietri, who wrote magic realist short stories about the mystery and reality of life.
In literature, Hoffman's fiction writing and screenplays fall into the magic realism category with several notable hallmarks. First, there is the highly accurate detail of the rational world as the setting. Another element that sets magic realism apart from fantasy is the narrator's acceptance or indifference to the magical or extraordinary events taking place.
This is the perfect grand finale ending to the Deschutes Public Library series, which is co-sponsored by Oregon Humanities. A new series will begin in July, according to Strobel, with more famous authors invited to Bend for a discussion about current works, literature and the writing process.
Hoffman, a native of New York who now lives in Boston, was a fellow at Stanford University's Creative Writing Center in 1973/74 when she was just 21. An early job at Doubleday gave her perspective on the publishing world and Doubleday published two of her novels.
In 1983, she wrote the screenplay for "Independence Day," and her film writing credits also include "Practical Magic" released in 1998, based on her novel by the same name, and "The Dovekeepers," in 2014, a film for television based on her book published in 2011.
Hoffman's first novel, "Property Of," was published in 1977. Her new book, "Faithful," will be released in November 2016, with pre-orders available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Hoffman is also the author of several young adult and children's books.
Author! Author! Alice Hoffman
7 p.m., Thursday, May 26 Bend High School Auditorium, 230 NE Sixth St., Bend
Deschutes Public Library Foundation: 541-312-1027