David Vann came to the new (and improved) Arts Centre on campus last night and I felt genuinely inspired by the man. For someone whose polite, unassuming and softly-spoken manner might lead folk to believe a puff of wind would blow him away, he sure writes like a tornado.
He read from Legends of a Suicide, Dirt and even some unpublished material of his, and it was a very valuable experience. He was as open as a river mouth, and the knowledge that flowed forth, the links between his life and his writing etc was very illuminating. I felt again, if only for a few hours, that it's okay to be a writer. I'd say he has big cojones to write about what he does, let alone talk so openly to an audience about such personal things (five suicides, one murder and a very slippery head, for example).
His poetics were really meaty as well, particularly how his relationship with Greek tragedies has given his work a universal flavour. The way he got to the bare bones of his process of writing reminded of the talk Jeremy Dyson gave after The Cranes that Build the Cranes was published. They were similar in that they don't find redrafting as rewarding a process as many make it out to be, with respect to short stories at least. They were both writers who were unafraid to say what they felt and they were both FREE events set up by Edge Hill.
The self-revision and humility of his performance was just so real, it was beautiful really. No offence to other readers at Edge Hill (at least in terms of fiction), not only was he the best but I don't see how he's gonna be topped. Still, with the amount of events open to students and non-students alike, it's probably just a matter of time. Watch this space, then.