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Bestselling Author Daniel Wallace to Visit Waccamaw Library

Daniel Wallace
Tue, 01/22/2019

New York Times bestselling novelist Daniel Wallace will read from his work at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at the Waccamaw Library, located at 41 St. Paul Place, Pawleys Island. The event, to be held in the DeBordieu Auditorium, will be free and open to all. A question-and-answer period will follow the reading.

Wallace’s reading is part of a series of related events that will include a screening of director Tim Burton’s film version of Big Fish on Friday, February 15 at 2:30 p.m. as well as a live performance of songs from the Broadway musical version of Big Fish on Thursday, February 21 at 5:30 p.m. In addition, there will be a special Children’s Storytime on Friday, February 22 at 10:30 a.m. featuring The Cat’s Pajamas, a children’s book written and illustrated by Wallace. These events are also free and open to the public, and will take place in DeBordieu Auditorium at the Library. All events are sponsored by the Friends of the Waccamaw Library (FOWL).

Wallace is the acclaimed author of six novels, including Big Fish (1998), which was made into a major motion picture by director Tim Burton and then into a Broadway musical. Big Fish follows main character Edward Bloom, a charismatic storyteller, along adventures in the small-town South that mix reality and myth.

Wallace’s other books include Ray in Reverse (2000), The Watermelon King (2003), Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician (2007), The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013), and most recently Extraordinary Adventures (2017). He has published dozens of short stories in venues such as The Yale Review, Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, Long Story Short, and The Best American Short Stories, and he is a regular contributor to Garden & Gun magazine. His work has been translated into eighteen languages. In addition to his writing, Wallace is a skilled illustrator and cartoonist; as a result, his stories reflect a strong visual sense. He has also written and illustrated children’s books.

A native of Alabama who attended Emory University and the University of North Carolina, Wallace has lived nearly all of his life in the South. He serves as the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In April, Wallace will be honored for his career-long literary accomplishments as recipient of the 2019 Harper Lee Award.

Wallace describes his writing process as a mix between improvisation and discipline. While he is at heart “an improvisational writer” who likes to “let the story go and trust that it is going to evolve in its own way,” he also cautions that years of practice may go into writing a single good story. “It’s like playing basketball,” he noted, drawing an analogy from his beloved UNC Tarheels. “When you’re in the moment out on the court, you’re not thinking about a crossover dribble or faking left and going right. It’s something you do instinctively from repeated practice.”

This balance between improvising and structure is reflected in the style of his first novel, Big Fish. At the time, Wallace was a new father: “Because of my son, I didn’t have time to write a thirty-page chapter,” he recalled. “I wrote during his naps, and, like the rings of a tree, you can see the length of the chapters as being the length of the naps he took.”

One of our finest contemporary comic novelists, Wallace expands the genre of comedy through fiction that is funny, yet serious. He uses humor to explore some of our darker fears about family, failure, disability, lost time, and death. His stories lighten us up as they enlighten us.

“Basically, I love jokes. Life is hard, and laughter is good,” he said. “I want to talk about things that aren’t necessarily enjoyable, but I want readers to enjoy the enjoyable. It’s really hard to make somebody cry, but I can easily make you laugh. And the source of both of those emotions is not quite in the same place, but definitely in the same neighborhood.  If you can approach that place through humor, then the chances of getting into deeper emotional places later are much greater.”