An audience mixed with students and faculty members gathered Tuesday night at Foster Auditorium for readings from Penn State professor William J. Cobb’snewest novel, “The Bird Saviors.”
Cobb, who teaches two courses in the Department of English, detailed the inspiration behind his 2012 novel before reading a passage from the book during a 60-minute segment.
“You’ve probably heard it said, ‘The book began with a voice in my head.’ Well, that’s pretty much how it began,” he said.
Cobb’s prose was flush with descriptions of western scenery and wildlife, which derives from his 10 years living at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado.
In “The Bird Saviors,” Cobb said that, without pontificating changes to be made, the story captures the major contemporary issues that he experienced directly while living in a region that was “noticeably changing.”
He said that climate change, the outbreak of a virus and a large polygamous community are the three major facets in the background of his story.
“It’s surprising how common dust storms are out there now. It’s been compared to the Black Dusters of the dust bowl period of the 1930s,” Cobb said.
Toni Jensen, an assistant professor in the Department of English at Penn State, said the department was very pleased to include Cobb in the Mary E. Rolling Reading series, which she has been in charge of organizing for the 2012-2013 academic year.
“Pretty much any time we have a faculty member at Penn State publish a book and it goes on to have good reviews and good attention across the country, we like to feature him or her in the series for that year,” she said.
Jensen said that the annual series features seven to ten published writers who visit from all over the country, with a focus on poetry in the fall and prose in the spring. She also said that the major reading event for this spring will be the Steven Fisher Writer-in-Residence Program and will feature renowned author Sandra Cisneros.
Stan Daniels (senior-integrative arts) attended the event and said he thought the reading was really good.
“After coming and getting a background about the author, I really enjoyed it and found it actually makes me want to go read the book now,” he said.