Haslett, Park read to spellbound audience

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

On Friday November 4th, two recent Swarthmore alumni returned to read selections from their work in the Scheuer Room.

Yongsoo Park ’94 was introduced by Natalie Anderson, who showed us an anthology of poetry he had collected for her Honors Women’s Poetry Seminar and read what she termed the “chilling jacket copy” with relish.

Park, in turn, shared the first chapter of his novel “Boy Genius,” entitled “Commie Bastard.” Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the story of the smartest boy in South Korea and his American G.I. companion “Choco Joe” may not have been PC, but it provided many hearty laughs. He also read aloud a selection from his second novel “Las Cucarachas,” about a twelve-year old in the projects of New York City trying to recover his stolen Atari 2600.

“Most of what I write comes from a child’s perspective,” mused Park, “and maybe that’s because I’m lazy… I can always get into a twelve year old’s psyche.” He also reassured the audience that if he could be a writer, so could we, confiding that he was a “bad student” back at Swarthmore.

Peter Schmidt introduced Adam Haslett ’92 by musing on his transformation from student with a “Swarthmore Slouch” to a man who “now stands straight, with a certain insousiance.” Haslett read us something nobody had ever heard before, an as-yet-untitled section from his as-yet-untitled novel. The story of a disillusioned liberal-arts-college graduate, the selection betrayed Haslett’s Swarthmore pedigree not just through its subject matter, but also through the quality of the writing.

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