Semester's Final Voices Reading Bittersweet and Hilarious


This semester’s final Voices reading was held on Thursday, April 24 in Daugherty-Palmer Commons, and it was also Professor Karen Anderson’s last reading before she goes on sabbatical next year. Professor Anderson gave a brief introduction with her background in planning on-campus readings both at St. Mary’s and elsewhere, and described how she was originally worried about faculty, student, and writer involvement, but she was blown away by the consistent attendance at and interest in the readings. Professor Jerry Gabriel then introduced the readers. The readers, Corinna Valliantos and Kevin Moffett, are a married couple living outside of Los Angeles with their son and three dogs, and each have a distinctive writing voice and sense of humor.
Valliantos read from her new novel, Greater Nature about a man named Kurt Quick, a newscaster based in Los Angeles whose life goes downhill very quickly in a series of mistakes. The excerpt was hilarious with a witty, dry humor due to word play and, admittedly, a sense of schadenfreude. For example, when describing Bernadette, Kurt’s girlfriend turned wife turned ex-wife, Valliantos wrote that she was an actress and her “tongue was long and her legs were insured.” Funny and poignant, the story was a delight to hear and absolutely sparked an interest in the upcoming novel.
Moffett read from his soon-to-be-published collaborative work, The Silent History, about children in the near future who are “born without the ability to create or comprehend language, but perhaps with other surprising skills of their own” called the Silents. The story is available for download for iPhones and iPads due to its media component; immediately prior to his reading, Moffett played a movie clip that give the story some background and exposition. He then read excerpts from the story from the perspective of two individuals who are fascinated by the Silents and their perceptions about why the Silents suddenly came into being and why it is so important to try to connect with them despite their lack of language comprehension. The story was both touching and funny.
After the readings there was a brief question and answer session when attendees could ask the authors about their writing styles, the stories, or the authors themselves. Questions were asked about the authors’ distinctive, similar senses of humor, to which the authors replied that while they acknowledged that being married for over ten years can create similarities, their senses of humor were one of the traits that drew them to one another in the first place.
Next semester, the Voices Readings program will be run by Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black, who is coming back fresh from a year on sabbatical, and will surely be as interesting and engaging as this year’s readings.