In “Isle of Youth,” Laura van den Berg explores the lives of women mired in secrecy and deception. In one story, a newlywed finds herself caught in an inscrutable marriage. Another follows a teenager, who assists her magician mother and steals from the audience.
Van den Berg will read from this story and others from “Isle of Youth” when the Creative Writers Reading Series resumes at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, on Thursday, March 27. Her 6 p.m. reading and the reception that will precede it are free and open to the public. Both events will be held in the Larry and Kathryn Smith Chapel.
Indeed, writing intriguing stories about women seems to be van den Berg’s specialty.
“If we’ve learned anything from lauded short story writers like Alice Munro and Grace Paley, it’s that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing what you know, and only what you know. What Laura van den Berg knows: what it’s like to be a youngish woman trying to sort out her personal life,” Madeleine Crum wrote in a December Huffington Post review. “Van den Berg’s strength lies in her quieter tales. In the most moving, a newly-married woman realizes, while chatting with other couples on her honeymoon, that she’ll always feel a little isolated.”
Van den Berg’s first collection of stories, “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us” was released in 2009 and was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection. Her follow-up, “Isle of Youth,” was released this past November.
The Creative Writers Reading Series is produced by Penn State Behrend’s B.F.A. in Creative Writing degree program with support from the Clarence A. and Eugenie Baumann Smith Fund. For additional information call 814-898-6108 or visit Behrend.psu.edu/readings.