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The Blue & Gray Press | February 22, 2018

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Lee Zacharias debuts new novel at Thursday Poems

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By HOPE RACINE

On Thursday, Jan. 3, author Lee Zacharias read an excerpt from her new book, “At Random.”

Zacharias, whose previous work includes her novel, “Lessons,” and a series of short stories entitled “Helping Muriel Make It Through The Night,” often reads these works at various colleges across the East Coast. Thursday’s reading, however, was special in that it was the public debut of Zacharias’ new book, “At Random.”

“At Random” focuses on a white, middle-class couple that struggles to cope with a traumatic experience. The book examines the relations of the white middle-class and the minority lower class in the 1990s. In addition, the book features a withering review of the American legal system.

According to Zacharias, she was inspired to write the book by a dream she had that would later become the opening sequence of “At Random.” However, the book almost didn’t come to fruition.

“At that time, my publisher said that they were not taking on any more books that centered around the white middle class,” said Zacharias. “A smarter person than I would have written something different, but I did the opposite.”

“Instead,” she continued, “I decided to write it anyway. It’s what I know. But I decided to take these characters and stretch them, put them to the test and see what happened.”

Zacharias stepped outside of her comfort zone to an extent while writing the book.

“I really had a good time writing from a man’s perspective. I always write as a woman, and it was a nice change,” she said.

Hosted by Professor Warren Rochelle of the English department, the reading, although prose, was the first of this semester’s Thursday poetry readings.

Sophomore biology major Filagot Taye regularly attends the Thursday poetry readings for fun.

“I really liked the story. [Zacharias] has a nice voice, and it was interesting to hear her read her story,” Taye said.

Nate Levine, a sophomore majoring in history and English with a creative writing concentration, attended the reading to receive credit for his creative writing class.

“It was very dark,” Levine said, “but it was really interesting. It made me want to buy the book.”

Following her reading on Thursday, Zacharias returned to campus on Friday to teach several sections of Rochelle’s Introduction to Creative Writing class. She spent the class period helping students practice character development and strengthen their own individual writing voices.

As a retired teacher, Zacharias is comfortable in a classroom setting.

“If you asked me five years ago, I would have told you that I was a teacher who loved to write,” she said. “But now I would describe myself foremost as a writer.”

“I love to teach,” Zacharias added. “But the greatest thing about writing is that there is always something more to learn.”