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Authors Edan Lepucki, Alex Gilvarry and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan discuss life and art at the Brooklyn Book Festival

September 17, 2017 By Stephanie Kotsikonas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Edan Lepucki (third from left) reads from her latest book “Woman No. 17.” From left: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Alex Gilvarry, Lepucki and panel moderator Ryan Chapman. Eagle photo by Stephanie Kotsikonas
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Artists are always getting a bad rap. They’re difficult to live with, seemingly impossible to understand and often obsessed to a fault with their own work.

But boy, do they make for good literature.

At Brooklyn Book Festival panel on Sunday titled “How Art Informs Life Informs Art,” three fiction writers discussed the reality behind their novels and the type of characters that create the most interesting plots.

“Woman No. 17” by Edan Lepucki, Alex Gilvarry’s “Eastman Was Here” and “Harmless Like You” by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan all deal with problematic parents, a point that naturally led to the ultimate question: Is it possible to be a good parent and a good artist?

The protagonist of Gilvarry’s “Eastman Was Here” (who is based off of literary giant Norman Mailer) is obsessed with being history’s greatest American writer. He also happens to be a father — one who doesn’t pay much attention to his many children.

“We want to read about bad parents,” Gilvarry said. “Good parents are boring.”

Of all three panelists, Lepucki was the only one with children of her own. She, unlike the main character of her latest novel, said that she uses the inspiration that comes from pivotal moments such as watching her children learn how to speak and puts it into her work.

But bad parenting, hidden motives and emotional rollercoasters are perhaps not the most realistic elements to be found within a plot. Gilvarry, Buchanan and Lepucki instead all agreed on the two most lifelike things a character can do: eat and have sex.

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