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2012 Fall Issue 8 (November 9, 2012)

Acclaimed Author Peter Geye Previews The Lighthouse Road

November 9, 2012
By Ben Strauss

Last Thursday, the Carleton Bookstore sponsored acclaimed author Peter Geye reading the first chapters of his new book, The Lighthouse Road, in the Gould Library Athenaeum.

The novel takes place in northern Minnesota by Lake Superior and details the struggles of an immigrant woman and her son. “The Lighthouse Road explores what it means to live an honest life in a suspect world,” Geye said.

The book, already well-reviewed, was enhanced by Peter Geye’s public reading. “It gave me a sense of the intended voice and flow of the writing style in the novel,” said Ellen Levine ’13. “The novel seemed very atmospheric and focused on setting. I think it would be a great read for someone who knows more about Minnesota and rural life,” she added.

In addition to being inspired by his local setting, Geye was also attracted to a specific theme. “I love great adventure writing. My favorite books are adventure books. Blood Meridian, Moby Dick, Hemingway’s stories... they’re all driven as much by action as language,” he said. It is no surprise that one of the main protagonists in the novel, Odd, works as a fisherman, boat builder, and bootlegger during Prohibition.

When asked about his career choice and experience as a writer, Geye said he was most influenced by Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms. “It was during the reading of this book that the lightbulb went off for me: books could be cool, romantic, interesting, entertaining,” he said.

He started writing his first novel, Safe from the Sea, after graduating from the University of Minnesota. Three years passed before he was able to find a publisher. Then, Geye spent seven additional years writing as he mulled over the characters and their relationships. On writing, Geye said, “It’s a grueling process. If I didn’t have thick skin when I started, I do now.”

Overall, the talk was well-attended by the Carleton community but not by Carleton students. “It’s really cool that Carleton hosted this event, but it’s probably hard to get students to come if they are unfamiliar with the author, especially during eighth week,” said Levine.

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