The 45-year-old Plutzik series welcomed Visiting Assistant Professor of English Anthony Giardina to speak this past Tuesday in the penultimate presentation of the fall semester. He read excerpts from his latest novel, “White Guys,” and answered audience questions.

Giardina has many accomplishments to his name. His plays have been performed at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Long Wharf New Haven, Conn., Seattle Rep and the Cleveland Playhouse, among other locales. He has also acted and is a regular visiting professor at the Michener Center at the University of Texas in Austin.

Roswell S. Burrows Professor of English Joanna Scott, introducing Giardina, noted the critical praise of his works.

“It’s that flat-out sense of live-life that he encourages us to experience,” Scott said.

Scott also noted that the display of Giardina’s works, including both “White Guys” and “Recent History,” was perhaps the first R-rated display the Plutzik series has had, noting some of the more risqu material in his books.

Speaking in the Welles-Brown Room in Rush Rhees Library, Giardina followed his excerpts from “White Guys” with a brief explanation of the source of his inspiration. Driving home through Massachusetts in January of 1990 while listening to the radio, he heard that Charles Stuart, a Boston resident, had thrown himself off of a bridge.

“I had a great sense of sadness,” Giardina said.

As Giardina noted, however, that emotion was misplaced.

Stuart gained notoriety in Boston 17 years ago when he was found in a car, shot in the stomach, and his pregnant wife was found dead. The unborn child, delivered by caesarean section, died 17 days later. Stuart told authorities that a black man had jumped into their car, robbed them and eventually shot each of them. It was later discovered that Stuart had lied about the entire affair and committed the murders himself. In early January he committed suicide.

Giardina was surprised at his reaction to the story.

“I thought my sense of being taken in would make a great subject,” he said.

Basing his narrative “nakedly and shamelessly” off F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Giardina aimed to recreate Stuart. He did a great amount of research on the era Stuart grew up in, notably the ’60s and ’70s, and poured over files from the District Attorney’s office in Middlesex County, the setting of Stuart’s story.

“I didn’t want to deal with the ’50s,” he said, referencing the time periods of his other work. “I wanted to deal with the ’60s.”

Giardina interviewed people about their experiences growing up during this time, asking people about what proms were like in the late 1970s. He had imagined that they involved bands like Led Zeppelin.

“I had it wrong. I had it all wrong,” he said, to laughs from the audience.

After reading two lengthy excerpts to the crowd, Giardina took a few questions from the crowd, and his reading went over very well.

“Obviously I don’t know Boston, but from an outside perspective, he seemed to develop it very well,” junior Josh Plechaty said afterwards. “It makes me feel sad I didn’t take his class.”

Giardina’s reading is the fourth in the Plutzik series so far this autumn, following David Mason, David Leavitt and Tom Sleigh. Robert and Peg Boyers will give the final reading of the semester.

Brenneman is a member of the class of 2009.



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