Guest Post, Kevin Hanlon: A Reading by Melissa Pritchard

“She has come to Villa il Palmerino, betrayed and alone, to write about love.”

-Melissa Pritchard, Palmerino

Palmerino

I arrived having only the slightest inclination of what to expect. A former student of Melissa’s, I have grown accustomed to her animated readings and her unbounded enthusiasm towards creation. However, it was on this night that I would finally be hearing my professor read her own work. The evening started as Melissa lit candles, sipped wine, and greeted audience members who came to hear her read at Changing Hands Bookstore. Here, she was no teacher, but rather an artist sharing her work with me, the reader. There was no need to teach or explain and no need to answer questions. There was only Melissa and the page in front of her.

Our audience was about fifty people. We took our seats and quietly discussed what we had in store for the evening: Palmerino. Pritchard’s fourth novel is set in rural Italy and follows the protagonist, a present-day biographer and writer, Sylvia, through a time-transcending journey of discovery that unfolds both her own life and the life of her subject, the poet Vernon Lee. Palmerino explores sexuality and emotion while inviting the reader to get thoroughly lost in the gracefully assembled Italian dreamscape of both past and present.

Melissa PritchardWe enjoyed refreshments and biscotti provided by Pritchard to help further immerse ourselves into her novel’s 19th century Italian setting. She read with power and beauty, adjusting her tone to distinguish between characters and narration. Pritchard’s writing is lyrical. Each word is carefully chosen and allows her to paint deliberate, detailed pictures in the reader’s mind. Throughout the book, tones shift as we slip back and forth through both time and voice.

The poeticism of the writing is obviously characteristic of Pritchard as it worked effortlessly with her theatric reading. From the excerpt she read, we learned of a dinner party with Vernon Lee, her family, and her lover Clementina, or Kit. They dined on sweet antiquities and spoke of passion and truth of the time period.

Pritchard’s voice guided us back in time to this wondrous place of enchantment and poetic love, and with her, if just for a moment, we escaped.

11 thoughts on “Guest Post, Kevin Hanlon: A Reading by Melissa Pritchard

  • March 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm
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    It really does completely change one’s perception of a story and its author to hear the work read aloud. I think that hearing the creator read their creation can be both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, you are able to see how the author herself would read and express the story, while on the other hand you are now stuck with a version of the story that is different then the way you might have come to it. Either way, Palmerino sounds like an ephemeral and decadent read!

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  • March 20, 2014 at 3:40 pm
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    It is very interesting how hearing an author read their own work can change how we ourselves think of it from then on. I suppose in a way it is describes how each of us relates literature to what one already knows, and yet our opinions are constantly being changed and refined as we interact with the literature on different levels whether through our own readings or hearing the author read it to us. Sounds like she has a wonderful style to her writing.

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  • March 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm
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    Reading this makes me wish that some of my greatest writing idols were still alive, so that I could hear them read their work in the way that they intended. True, it might make other interpretations of their work seem less plausible, but to have an insight into exactly how they crafted their work, and what they had in mind when they did, would be an amazing experience.

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    • March 27, 2014 at 12:17 am
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      We would love to hear James Joyce read Finnegans Wake, just to hear him suffer while saying the words.

      Thanks for reading!

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  • March 23, 2014 at 9:37 pm
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    The effect an author can have on their reader is truly inspiring. To read about the thrilling experience of actually hearing one of these authors read their own work is equally inspiring. In the past, I have found that hearing an author read their own work gives the audience a further insight into their favorite novels.

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  • March 23, 2014 at 11:07 pm
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    I haven’t had the opportunity to attend many readings, however the few I have been to have always been enjoyable experiences. I think it’s just a little more authentic to hear an author’s work first hand. Great post, I think this captures the experience quite well!

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  • March 24, 2014 at 9:15 am
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    Readings are always a beautiful experience, and a rare opportunity to hear the author’s own vocal influences on their text. It always adds more meaning for me to hear it come from the authors themselves, and it gives me more of an acceptance and understanding of the piece. This novel sounds amazing, and I love your descriptions of her reading!

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  • March 24, 2014 at 10:02 am
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    I’m just learning to appreciate live readings and how much they impact my opinions and impressions of the authors’ works. It really does mean more to come straight from the artist themselves, like it would have been done historically, when not many people could read or write. I went to my first official poetry reading this year, and the experience has changed my mind about many things. This was a lovely article, and for a moment, I escaped.

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  • March 24, 2014 at 10:20 am
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    I really wish I had been there for this read, or that it could have been captured via podcast. Darn me living in Alabama. :/ I was actually looking forward to this post via the reference made to it on Patricia’s Goodreads page. I wish there was more here, like an author interview, because what is mentioned is such an inviting appetizer to the book and the author and the past event. This is for sure a book on my upcoming reading list.

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