By Frances Marion Givhan
The Writing House began the new semester with a “smashing success” (Ben Sadler [C’17]): a humorous, entertaining, and uncomfortable event, Burn After Reading, on Thursday, January 28. A solid group of people settled into the house, munching on the homemade guacamole whipped up by house member Saunders Drukker (C’17), and the door was open for others who had a few minutes of their evening to spare. The housemates and collected company decided against burning any physical books, but the literature they read might have deserved such a fate.
“We wanted to have a fun, relaxed event to start off the year – something like Books and Brews, an event we had last semester, but a little different,” said Zack Loehle (C’17), one of the founders of the Writing House. The event featured a variety of fanfictions, excerpts from the kind of romance novels one finds at CVS, and selections from the Flat Earth Society.
“I hoped that my ears would bleed from the pain of hearing such filth,” said Drukker, who organized the event. Drukker describes how he found inspiration for the event through “the presence of awful literature, and the overwhelming need to feel better about [himself] by exposing [himself] to it.” He began the event by reading lines from a romance novel called Rough and Ready, but his favorite piece of the event was an excerpt from an Ashton Kutcher fanfiction written by a middle school student.
“The event was painfully cringe-worthy at times,” says Grayson Ruhl (C’17), “but this was absolutely intended. It made it all the more hilarious.” According to Ruhl, the Writing House wanted to have some laughs and emphasize what really makes badly written literature unpleasant. Sometimes the low quality of the writing caused frustration among the company, as it appeared anything could get published, though the question of how went unanswered.
One of the main highlights of the event that finished the night with a painful and nostalgic flourish was Drukker and Emily Reidlinger (C’17) reading their Facebook messages from when they dated in high school. The messages reminded everyone of the sweet angst of teenage years and the wonderful naivety of teens themselves. “I’m not sure if it was pleasurable,” says Ben Sadler (C’17) on listening to the exchange, “but I certainly won’t forget it.”
The Writing House is currently planning a variety of events, including a letter-writing event around Valentine’s Day, a panel of professors that will discuss various disciplines of writing, and a performance night at some point later in the semester. “We hope that the success of this event gets people excited for our future events, as well,” says Loehle.