On the evening of October 20, 2016, guests passed by spotlights that warmly lit the Concord Museum, almost as if the flame from Paul Revere’s lantern in their collection beckoned them inside. They assembled eagerly for author Christopher Castellani to open the 23rd Concord Festival of Authors with the event, “Who Tells a Story?”
The Concord Festival of Authors was founded by Rob Mitchell in 1993 and has featured many prominent guest speakers throughout the years, including Barak Obama in 1995. This year the festival runs from October 20 to November 6, 2016 in locations around Concord. The events this year feature readings from authors including Larry Tye, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Jane Kamensky, and Jerry Thornton.
The premier speaker, Castellani, is the artistic director of Boston’s non-profit writing center, Grubstreet, and is on the faculty and academic board of Warren Wilson MFA program. He stands behind the podium in the elegant, rustic meeting room in the museum. “I am truly honored to be kicking [the festival] off this year,” he says. Castellani mentions that Concord is special to him, remembering that he had one of his first book signings at The Concord Bookshop.
Castellani takes the topic of perspective through storytelling from his new book, The Art of Perspective: Who Tells a Story. Throughout the talk, Castellani touches upon how and why perspective in fiction is important for the writer and reader. He reads an example story with distinction, while also easily connecting to the audience in the engaging way he speaks. “I see narration as perspective in action,” he says. “To tell a story is to assert power.”
He brings the idea that reading like a writer is like a jeweler looking inside the back of a watch—both parties analyzing detailed components and understanding how they work. “Reading like a writer deepens its mystery,” he says. Castellani shows the audience different ways narrative strategy employs storytelling, giving books like Gone Girl, The Great Gatsby, and Atonement as examples of different narrative points of view.
In true Concord spirit, one of his final statements came in conjunction with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Castellani leaves the audience with the thought “Who tells the story? The author or the narrator?” The event concluded with an inspiring Q & A with the audience, giving a glimpse of the teacher in Castellani as he lights up and explores the observations and ideas presented to him.
Though he spoke about many perspectives that evening, the audience’s point of view was only positive for the first event in the 2016 Concord Festival of Authors.
To learn more about Christopher Castellani, visit his website here.
See the full event schedule of the Concord Festival of Authors here.
© Chelsea E. Dill 2016