Colorado State professor E.J. Levy to headline 2012’s first Fall Reading Series

E.J. Levy
E.J. Levy, an author and professor, will be reading her anthology “Taking Life Twice” Thursday at the University Center for the Arts.

New CSU assistant professor E.J. Levy’s story, “Theory of Dramatic Action,” begins with some bad luck. The reader’s cat has died, car has died and marriage has ended.

Told in second person, the narrator tells the reader, “Now as you drive a U-haul across the vast stretch-marked belly of the continent, on your way from Colorado to start film school in Ohio, you try to locate a feeling to go with these events…”

The story is part of Levy’s fiction book, “Love, In Theory.”

Levy is holding a reading of “Love, In Theory” Thursday in the UCA to showcase the new book and as an introduction to the creative writing department at CSU. It is also the first reading for the creative writing program’s Fall 2012 Reading Series.

The reading is tonight at 7:30 in the UCA Art Museum.

“The story collection is pretty funny,” Levy said. “It is contemporary love stories reflected through the lens of a variety of intellectual theories.”

For instance, “Theory of Dramatic Action” is based on the idea of dramatic structure (introduction, rising action, climax, falling action) and in the story those actions are mirrored by events.

“I love E.J.’s writing,” said Maureen Stanton, writer, colleague, and friend of Levy’s. “Her writing has everything that I want in great literature — an intellectual sensibility, lyrical, eloquent and original prose, and also heart — her stories are affecting.”

Another of Levy’s books, “My Life in Action,” won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction last year.

“Becoming a writer was a very slow journey for me,” Levy said. “So I spent a lot of time wanting to make art and wanting to write, but I felt that people like me had to go to law school instead.”

Her other book, titled “Amazons,” is a memoir about a trip to Brazil while she was studying economics — her first choice before becoming a writer.

“For me, ‘Amazons’ was really a reckoning about what happens if we put all of our faith in a cost benefit analysis,” Levy said. “We really treat free market capitalism as a religion, and where does that take us? It takes us to some pretty interesting places. So I came back and quit economics.”

Doing a book reading is something that can be drastically different at each location.

“On a book tour, you typically read excerpts of your book to various audiences,” Stanton said. “My favorite part of that experience is the question and answer period that follows the reading. This is when you get to have a real conversation with people.”

English professor Leslee Becker, who helps decide who to bring to CSU and to put the readings together, said, “This year, everyone wanted to hear E.J. Levy, and so we’re leading off with her. We’re lucky to have her on our faculty.”

But as to why a CSU student would want to attend this book reading?

“Here’s my roundabout answer,” Becker said. “Armenian folklore says that three apples fell from heaven; one for the storyteller, one for the listener, and the third for the person who took the story to heart. Here, CSU students can get all three.”

Collegian reporter Marcus Moritz can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.