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Local Legend Dan Wakefield Visits Shortridge

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Local Legend Dan Wakefield Visits Shortridge

Eli Schmitt, Writer

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Shortridge alumni and author Dan Wakefield visited Shortridge on Thursday, January 10th with a mission in mind. He, with the help of Mr. Gawdzik, had gathered a group of students who are avid readers for a focus group. That morning the group discussed Mr. Wakefield’s upcoming novel about Kurt Vonnegut. The novel will focus on Vonnegut’s early learn up until his first story becomes a published piece of work in an effort to show how Vonnegut became the writer that we all know today. The book will also heavily focus Vonnegut’s years at Shortridge where he was the editor of the Daily Echo. Mr. Wakefield, who knew Vonnegut personally for over 40 years and has edited a collection of letters written by Vonnegut, is a premier source to tell Vonnegut’s story. While their writing styles contrast (Vonnegut being the surrealist and Wakefield being the realist) Wakefield said that it was Shortridge that brought them together in the first place. Wakefield has already started to dig deep in Vonnegut’s past for this book. He has reached out to the Archives club to verify a story about Vonnegut being put headfirst into a trashcan by two jocks (which the archives club verifies). Wakefield has also reached out to Vonnegut’s son, Mark, to help fill in some of the blanks need to finish the story.      

The group assembled on Thursday to read prepared excerpts from a very early draft.  Both sections deal with Wakefield personal interactions with Vonnegut including answer questions about him for a Pennsylvania bookstore. It was clear from these drafts that the audience for the book will be a younger audience, most likely around middle school. Wakefield backed up this assumption by talking about how he saw that there was a lack of non-fiction young adult books on the markets. In my opinion, I have found that many young adult books written by authors who usually write for adults can be problematic. The author sometimes belittles the reader by using over-simplistic language and over explanation of concepts. Hopefully, Mr. Wakefield’s newest novel does not fall in the same trap as some many before it.

If you have an inclination to learn more about Mr.Wakefield I encourage you to check out some of his previous books as well as his website https://danwakefield.com/

 

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