Monday, April 05, 2004

This morning I want to share a discovery I made on Saturday. After receiving an e-mail from PEN New England (if you're a writer in the Boston area, do yourself a favor and join!) informing me that short-story writer Karl Iagnemma is doing a reading at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge on Wednesday, April 7 at 6:30 pm, I became curious. A little googling uncovered a remarkable talent. Iagnemma, a robotics engineer at MIT, published a short story collection last year entitled On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction (Dial Press).

The stories, written while he was studying for his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, have been awarded the Paris Review Discovery Prize and a Pushcart Prize. One story (sorry, I don't know which one yet) was selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories. He has received a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and best of all, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fiction Grant. Whew! Well, after reading all this early Saturday morning, I was desperate to read his work. I got a hold of a copy of On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction and curled up on the couch with Sophie.

It didn't matter to me anymore that the weather was wet and cold. After a few pages, I knew I had a startlingly original new voice in my hands. Nothing can beat the excitement of that. I am convinced that Iagnemma's mooring in mathematics and physics is at the root of his unique vision, reminding me in a way of how biology and medicine informs John Murray's short stories. See my archives, the October 7, 2003 entry for information about Murray and hisA Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies.

Fascinating interview with Iagnemma on


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