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Author Rosenblatt to read from newest novel

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | JANUARY 26, 2012 7:20 AM

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Roger Rosenblatt long knew he wanted the life of a writer after growing up in a neighborhood in Manhattan that had been home to such literary icons as Herman Melville and Nathanael West.

He remembers being able to feel the atmosphere of a writer's life before he started to create his own work.

In elementary school, he was, he said, a terrible student, but one thing he did was write. This hobby grew to become his career.

Now, 15 books later, he is ready to share his latest book, Kayak Morning, with the public at 7 p.m. Friday at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. Admission is free.

Kayak Morning, written in essay form, focuses on a man's struggle after his daughter dies. Rosenblatt reflects on the grief that results from personal tragedy.

The essay takes place on a summer morning, two and a half years after his daughter's death.

Rosenblatt kayaks down a river and reminisces about her life; at moments in the narrative, he talks to her as if she's there. The nature surrounding the writer as he journeys down the river also triggers memories of his own past.

The work follows his previous work, Making Toast, which was more closely attached to his daughter's death and how his family coped with the loss.

This past week, Kayak Morning was on the New York Times bestseller list.

In some ways, these two essays have been what Rosenblatt considers to be his more literary approach to nonfiction writing, a groove he has striven to find.

Daniel Halpern, Rosenblatt's editor at HarperCollins, said he believed there was a shift in the author's writing because of the tragedy.

"I think these essays have deepened him as a human being and that he now has a different kind of self awareness," Halpern said. "He was a mature writer when I met him and well-known in the literary world. I love his fiction."

Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books, who recently read Kayak Morning and excerpts from Making Toast, said he found both to be beautifully written.

"Rosenblatt had the saddest possible thing happen to him, and he wrote two books about how you deal with this kind of thing," Ingram said. "Both are very moving. They are very short, but they are good books about dealing with personal loss."

Rosenblatt's latest project is about growing up in New York City and the thrill that young children get living in a big metropolitan area.

He plans to keep writing because he considers it to be better than working any type of office job.

"Whatever you write must move the human heart, and it must be useful to people," he said. "It must be useful aesthetically, philosophically, and practically, but it must be useful."


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