Earlier this month, PEN/Faulkner wrapped up its Summer Supper & Book Club with a visit from DC-based author David Ebenbach came to Hill Center to meet with students and to discuss his story collection Between Camelots. We’d come a long way from that first visit with Susan Richards Shreve back in July, and students were primed and ready to discuss reliable vs. unreliable narrators, and we spent a good deal of time discussing (and debating) what makes a story satisfying to a reader? Some contended that short stories are hard to deal with because they so often end ambiguously. Without some firm ending to grasp, what’s the point?
When Ebenbach joined the discussion, he asked the students why they felt inclined to find closure in a story. What makes an ending good? Using the title story of his collection as a jumping off point to discuss endings, students debated the relative merits and flaws of ambiguous endings. While there was no class-wide consensus reached about whether ambiguous endings or tidy endings are preferable, Ebenbach hit the point home that, at least for him, a story is about capturing, depicting, and communicating (as best as one can), a particular emotion, mood, or moment.
It was difficult to say goodbye, and some students lingered at the end of the session so that we co
uld continue to talk about the books we’d read, the stories we’d explored together, and the authors we’d met. With the regular school year upon us, the Summer Supper & Book Club already feels like ancient history. Never fear, however, we’ll be doing it again next summer, so if you’re a high school student looking to meet and discuss great literature with some of DC’s finest authors, keep your eyes here on the WinS Blog next spring.
In the meantime, PEN/Faulkner’s staff wants to thank all of the authors and students who joined us for this incredible program. You made our summer!