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Cavanaugh Lecture Series presents BEST OF LSU FICTION editors and writer James Wilcox

Released: 10/11/2010

Editors Nolde Alexius and Judy Kahn, will present and discuss their recently released anthology, Best of LSU Fiction, on Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Alexandria Museum of Art. Accompanying the editors will be satirist and nine-time novelist James Wilcox. Wilcox, whose first novel Modern Baptists won him national acclaim, will read selections from his short stories. The event is free and open to the public as part of the Cavanaugh Lecture Series named for Dr. Robert Cavanaugh, chancellor emeritus at LSU Alexandria. Copies of Best of LSU Fiction will be available for purchase. For more information, contact Dr. Bernard Gallagher at 318-427-4472.

About the presenters: Nolde Alexius holds a B.A. in English and Drama from Randolph Macon College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from George Mason University. She has worked as a freelance reporter, both for Country Roads Magazine and for The Advocate. She has also worked as the Visiting Editor for Country Roads Magazine and as Fiction Editor for So to Speak, a feminist journal of language and art. Alexius’ publications include short stories, freelance articles for newspapers, interviews, and book reviews. She was the winner of the LSU Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society award in fall of 2003, of the Poets & Writers, Inc. Writers Exchange Competition in fiction in 2002, and of 2 Louisiana Division of the Arts Mini-Grants in Literature. For the past 11 years, Alexius has been guiding students through the intricacies of English Composition, Fiction, Drama, Writing the Short Story, and Contemporary Fiction. Right now she has 3 major writing projects in progress: a Novel trilogy, a short story collection, and Louisiana reference book.

Judy Kahn holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from LSU where she taught as an instructor in the English department for 35 years. While there, she served as coordinator for both the English department''s reading series, Readers & Writers, and as assistant director of the Creative Writing program. She is the recipient of both the George H. Deer Distinguished Teacher Award and the Tiger Athletic Award for Undergraduate Teaching. The Provost’s office described Kahn as a “talented poet” who made significant contributions to LSU’s writing programs. She was also praised for her dedication to her students and for teaching them to write with “brevity” and “clarity.” As a teacher of introductory literature, Kahn created the course, LSU Fiction, and for ten years, enjoyed teaching short stories and novels written by members of her department at LSU. Since retiring in 2004, she has taken painting and piano lessons, collaborated on a book of poetry with New Orleans architect Errol Barron, and co-edited Best of LSU Fiction with Nolde Alexius. When asked what she does now that she’s retired, her answer is often, “Anything I want to do.

James Wilcox, a native of Hammond, worked at Random House and Doubleday in New York after graduating from Yale. His first novel, Modern Baptists, earned praise from Robert Penn Warren who described the novel as “realistic and fantastic, painfully comic, and, in a strange way, psychologically penetrating. . . .[I]ts author is a writer of impressive promise.” Anne Tyler’s front page praise for the novel in The New York Times Book Review describes it as a work of “real comic genius” and Wilcox as a “writer . . . [who] makes us all feel hopeful.” Since its publication in 1983 Modern Baptists has been included in Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon and listed in GQ’s 45 best fiction published in the past 45 years.

Laura Albritton’s review of Wilcox’s ninth novel, Hunk City, published in 2007 by Viking and reprinted by Penguin Books in 2008, argues that it helps establish Wilcox as “arguably our most talented contemporary American satirist, and indisputably the most devastating satirist of the South today.” Scott Romine writes, in his book The Real South: Southern Narrative in the Age of Cultural Reproduction, that “Perhaps no writer since James Thurber has so elegantly linked the absurd and the everyday…. Wilcox is arguably the late South’s foremost literary cartographer; he is also, I suggest, the late South’s most perceptive novelist of manners.” (p. 175-177)

Wilcox’s short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and Avenue. In 1986 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Wilcox’s book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, and Elle. He has been a judge for the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award for the best first-published book of fiction by an American writer published in 1991; for the 1994 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award; for the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society novella contest in 1999; and for the Eudora Welty Prize for Fiction given by The Southern Review in 2005. He was the recipient an ATLAS grant for 2007-08. LSU recognized him as the 2008 Distinguished Research Master of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences. In 2010 he was appointed to the MacCurdy Distinguished Professorship in English.