Accomplished novelist reads his excerpts

Eden Cohen, Staff Writer

Fifty attendees listened, captivated, as novelist Steve Sherrill painstakingly tallied stab wounds Thursday in Blackington Hall.

Sherrill read an excerpt from “Joy, PA,” his new novel set in Central Pennsylvania. The poetic, haunting novel features three family members who believe the apocalypse is nigh.

Junior Danielle Myers attended after reading some novel samples for class, she said. She said its three points of view—first, or I; second, or you; and third, or he—inspired her.

Myers said she was required to attend for professor Michael Cox’s Advanced Seminar Writing course, but she would have attended anyway.

“Writing majors want to show up to hear about the publishing world,” she said.

Another attendee, junior Kelsey Smith, said she would not have attended without professor Eric Schwerer requiring it for his Introduction to Creative Writing class. Smith said she hoped to be inspired for class writings.

Schwerer wanted his students to see and hear a living accomplished writer, he said. Cox said he required his students to attend to hear writing questions answered and hopes one day, the reading will change a life.

Since Sherrill is a Penn State-Altoona associate professor, he was considered local enough to be included in the Fall Reading Series, which has been held annually since 2007.

“These are always fun, and we get a nice crowd,” he said of the events.

Myers purchased the novel and had a copy of the book signed afterward.

“I’m excited to read the rest of the book,” she said.

Sherrill signed next to his dedication to radio evangelist Harold Camping, whom Sherrill said catalyzed the book’s creation. Camping’s authoritative and condescending voice changes and ruins lives, Sherrill said, and triggered his writing.

The novel is brutal and lightless. He read four critics’ who commented that said the book was too dark to sell.

“And it’s all true,” he said about the criticism. Though ultimately about love, the book tortures its characters, he said.

“They start on the precipice of hell, and I just push them in,” he said.