Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Maryka Biaggio

Maryka Biaggio, Ph.D, a professor of psychology for 30 years, undertook writing fiction as a serious pursuit around 2000. She attended writing conferences, started a critique group, and devoted half her time to writing. She improved her craft by completing three novels before writing Parlor Games. Now she splits her time between writing and working as a higher education consultant. Excerpts of her novels have garnered Willamette Writers and Belle Lettres awards. She specializes in writing historical fiction about real people.

A couple of weeks ago I asked her about what she was reading.  Biaggio's reply:
I recently stumbled onto two excellent excuses for rereading one of my all-time favorite books, The Poisonwood Bible: First, Barbara Kingsolver would soon be in town for a talk and, second, the sponsor of her appearance, Oregon Literary Arts, was offering a three-week delve series on The Poisonwood Bible.

I immediately signed up for the delve group, and the discussions were lively and thought-provoking. We explored all manner of perspectives on the book: the artful rendering of the children’s and mother’s voices; the intertwining themes of religious intolerance and colonial arrogance; and the devastation wrought on the people of the Congo as well as the missionary family who chose the worst possible time to proselytize. A book as layered and complex as The Poisonwood Bible deserved nothing less than three-evening two-hour discussions.

Barbara Kingsolver’s appearance at Portland, Oregon’s large performance center was a real treat. She and her interviewer sat on the stage in easy chairs chatting away about quite weighty, and sometimes intimate, matters, as if they were alone in her living room. She talked about many of her books, but I most relished her comments on The Poisonwood Bible. As a child she had lived for a time in the Belgian Congo; it was a place and experience that haunted her still. When she finally started writing the book, she researched its history, its people, its terrain and plants to exhaustion. The writing dragged on and on. She came to refer to the novel as That Damn Africa Book. It took ten years to write. And, in my opinion, it is a masterpiece.
Visit Maryka Biaggio's website.

My Book, The Movie: Parlor Games.

The Page 69 Test: Parlor Games.

--Marshal Zeringue