I honestly wasn’t expecting much, or maybe I didn’t know what to expect, from the reading Chet Frederick gave from his novel, After Lyletown, on Thursday afternoon. Frederick had taught at the university for thirty-three years, as Sean O’Connell told the audience, introducing the speaker. When he announced that he would be reading from his novel, I was surprised and intrigued. After sincerely appreciating the opportunity and support from O’Connell, Frederick introduced his novel.
Describing the story, Frederick noted, “one thing unfolds after another,” and that it “ends rather abruptly.” I didn’t know if this made him sound genius or disorganized, but I intently continued to listen.
Right away, as he dove into the first pages of his book, I could tell that he was speaking with intention. His hand gestures as well as facial expression were the bodily signs of enthusiasm and passion for his work. I honestly wasn’t too sure of what was going on because I felt thrown into a whole new world, but the language he was using was pretty great. While I was concentrating too much on his whistling s’s, his intense description fascinated me. Phrases like “...tasting only a bit of your own blood…” and “...a kid with Ben Franklin glasses,” were strewn throughout the reading, offering vivid and real imagery to my mind.
The reading caused me to believe that Frederick’s work is interesting without trying too hard because it feels natural and almost conversational. I thought it was great that he even used different accents, tones, pitch, and emphasis for the dialogue between different characters. He used a great German accent at one point.
Frederick was immersed in his work, and as a member of the audience, I could really feel that he truly knows his own story. I had to leave a bit early, but I did pick up on some great, vivid imagery that he used throughout his novel. Phrases like “muffled thrum of talk,” “lingering gloom,” “skin tingles in anticipation,” and “a crowded gauntlet of bodies” really allowed me to step into his story.
His reading was performed in such an engaging way that I could really see and feel everything that was happening in the story. I enjoyed attending the event, and I was captivated by the man’s reading. I probably wouldn’t read the full novel on my own, but I might recommend it to a hippie or two.