Acclaimed novelist Jennifer Haigh visits the University – Villanovan (subscription)
The 2017 Literary Festival concluded on Thursday night with a reading by Jennifer Haigh, from her latest of six novels, Ã¢Â€ÂœHeat and Light.Ã¢Â€Â The intensely researched and meticulously written story follows the complex lives of characters set in a fracking community.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe galvanizing event for this story is natural gas drilling and the controversy over fracking in Pennsylvania, but the book is much larger than that,Ã¢Â€Â Haigh told a captivated audience in Falvey LibraryÃ¢Â€Â™s Speakers Corner. Ã¢Â€ÂœItÃ¢Â€Â™s really a book about our hunger for energy. Some might even call is our addiction to energy and how it influences our economies, our communities, our lives.Ã¢Â€Â
The novel is written in present tense, setting it apart from the authorÃ¢Â€Â™s other works, which include short story collection Ã¢Â€ÂœNews From Heaven,Ã¢Â€Â and novels Ã¢Â€ÂœFaith,Ã¢Â€Â Ã¢Â€ÂœThe Condition,Ã¢Â€Â Ã¢Â€ÂœBaker TowersÃ¢Â€Â and Ã¢Â€ÂœMrs. Kimble.Ã¢Â€Â Haigh called Ã¢Â€ÂœHeat and LightÃ¢Â€Â Ã¢Â€Âœan Herculean effortÃ¢Â€Â because she spent five years doing nothing but research and writing.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI started writing this book having certain feelings about fracking,Ã¢Â€Â Haigh said. Ã¢Â€ÂœBut as I learned more about the subject I realized that I could not do justice to this story just talking to people who had leased their mineral rights. ThatÃ¢Â€Â™s only one piece of the story.Ã¢Â€Â
Haigh is a graduate of the Iowa WritersÃ¢Â€Â™ Workshop and has been published in Ã¢Â€ÂœGranta,Ã¢Â€Â Ã¢Â€ÂœElectric LiteratureÃ¢Â€Â and Ã¢Â€ÂœThe Best American Short Stories.Ã¢Â€Â She is a winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and the Massachusetts Book Award.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI guess what I wanted to do is show exactly how it is,Ã¢Â€Â Haigh said when asked what she hopes the book will accomplish. Ã¢Â€ÂœI just want to show this is what itÃ¢Â€Â™s like to have a drill rig 200 yards from your back door. This is what itÃ¢Â€Â™s like to be concerned about your community and trying to organize your community and to be convinced that your immediate environment is in danger.Ã¢Â€Â
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