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Presented By: Zell Visiting Writers Series

Giving Words to What is Wordless, Form to What is Formless: The Power of Imagery in Fiction

A Craft Lecture by Mary Gaitskill, Zell Visiting Writers Series

Mary Gaitskill Mary Gaitskill
Mary Gaitskill
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Seats are limited and are offered on a first come, first served basis; please arrive early to secure a spot.

Zell Visiting Writers Series craft lectures are free and open to the public, and will be offered both virtually (via Zoom) and in person (in The Robert Hayden Conference Room, Angell Hall #3222). Please contact with any questions or accommodation needs.

Of her lecture, Mary says, "This talk will focus on how writers may use words to create non-verbal imagery with layers of meaning and/or feeling through which we sense the hidden and irrational life of their characters and stories; how authors blend the primitive with the intellectual; how words may be used to describe or at least to glimpse the indescribable. This way of writing is now seemingly at odds with the dominant contemporary sensibility but I believe it is still powerful and essential."

Mary Gaitskill is the author of novels, short stories, and essays. Her most recent book is the hybrid work The Devil’s Treasure (ZE Books, 2021), which creates a collage out of her previous works, connected by the thread of a new short story.

In 2019, she published the widely acclaimed This is Pleasure (Pantheon), which The Guardian praised as “formidable.” Other works include the essay collection Somebody with a Little Hammer (Pantheon, 2017), the novels The Mare (Vintage, 2015), longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Veronica (Vintage 2013), a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and Two Girls, Fat and Thin (Simon & Schuster, 1991). She is also the author of the story collections Bad Behavior (Simon & Schuster, 2012), Don’t Cry (Pantheon, 2009), and Because They Wanted To (Simon & Schuster, 1997), which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner in 1998. Her story “Secretary” was the basis for the feature film of the same name starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader.

Gaitskill’s stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction and a Cullman Research Fellowship at the New York Public Library, an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Hopwood Award.

Gaitskill has taught at the University of California Berkeley, the University of Houston, New York University, Brown, and Syracuse University. Born in Lexington, KY, she currently lives in New York State’s Hudson Valley.

For any questions about the event or to share accommodation needs, please email are eager to help ensure that this event is inclusive to you. The building, event space, and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. A lactation room (Angell Hall #5209), reflection room (Haven Hall #1506), and gender-inclusive restroom (Angell Hall 5th floor) are available on site. ASL interpreters and CART services at in-person events are available upon request; please email at least two weeks prior to the event, whenever possible, to allow time to arrange services.

U-M employees with a U-M parking permit may use the Church Street Parking Structure (525 Church St., Ann Arbor) or the Thompson Parking Structure (500 Thompson St., Ann Arbor). There is limited metered street parking on State Street and South University Avenue. The Forest Avenue Public Parking Structure (650 South Forest Ave., Ann Arbor) is five blocks away, and the parking rate is $1.20 per hour. All of these options include parking spots for individuals with disabilities.

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