On April 29, the West Chester University Reading Series will host a reading by fiction writer, Andrew Ervin, at Walnut Street Labs at 8:00 p.m.
“Ervin will offer students a really exciting opportunity to talk with a local working artist and writer with an emerging national and international profile, an artist just entering the middle of his promising professional writing career. He’ll be able to talk with students about how he began his career as a writer and artist and what steps he’s taken to arrive at what is now a demonstrably promising future in writing and the arts” said Dr. Christopher Merkner, assistant professor of English at WCU.
Ervin grew up in Philadelphia where he currently lives with his wife. He is also a teacher and critic, but “he is a writer first,” Merkner said.
Ervin has close ties to West Chester. His father used to own a plumbing and heating company on Matlack Street where he spent a lot of his time during one summer.
“When I failed math in my freshman year of high school, part of my punishment involved working for his company after summer school. Some of his employees relished the opportunity to stick it to the boss’s kid so they had me digging ditches, operating a 90 pound jackhammer, you name it” Ervin said.
Jokingly, Ervin added, “I did a bit better in school after that summer.”
Though he is now back in Pennsylvania, Ervin has lived in Budapest, Illinois, and Louisiana. He attended Goucher College where he received a degree in philosophy and religion.
He completed his MFA in fiction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Ervin’s first book, Extraordinary Renditions, a collection of novellas, was included on Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010. The Huffington Post called it “one of the year’s most memorable works of fiction.”
His short story fiction has been featured in Conjunctions, The Southern Review & Fiction International.
On Thursday, Ervin will be reading from his newest novel, “Burning Down George Orwell’s House.”
According to Ervin’s website, the novel can be described as, “a darkly comic debut novel about advertising, truth, single malt, Scottish hospitality – or lack thereof – and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
Erwin doesn’t write to give his readers answers, but rather to have them questions.
“It’s not up to me to proselytize or indoctrinate. I don’t want to tell people what to think but I do want them to ask new questions of themselves and of the world around them” he said.
This reading is part of the creative writing department’s Creative Writing Series which has already hosted non-fiction writer, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz and poet, R. Erica Doyle.
The creative writing department hopes to highlight the arts on campus as well as connect them to the arts in the community, explained Merkner.
“I think it’s really important to connect the arts with the everyday life experience of living in Pennsylvania. Students should experience what the arts are through an international, literary artist such as Andrew Ervin,” Merkner said.
Ervin is the perfect example of writer who is making ends meet through writing and it’s important for students to see that, said Merkner.
Ervin truly enjoys writing.
“I love the focused quiet time, with the devices switched off, trying to make these words fit together somehow. I do this because the process itself is so great, more so than for the sake of publishing results,” he explained when asked why he writes.
Ervin wants students to know how grateful he is to get to visit and meet some of the writing students at WCU. Be sure to attend his reading this Wednesday at Walnut Street Labs at 8:00 p.m.
Colleen Curry is a fourth year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at CC763513@wcupa.edu.