June 25, 2019 | 73° F

Writers at Rutgers welcomes author of “Duplex” to Rutgers

Kathryn Davis wants her words and her experiences to ring bells in readers’ hearts and minds. 

Davis, author of “Duplex,” came to Rutgers for the Writers at Rutgers Reading Series yesterday to talk about her recent novel and partake in a Q&A session with the audience. 

The Writers at Rutgers has been around for several decades, said Carolyn Williams, a professor and chair of the English Department. It typically hosts eight events each semester and invites six writers to speak. This was the last event for the semester.

The reading series aims to bring awareness to authors who wish to share their passion with others, Williams said. She noted the events were not just intended for creative writers. 

Davis said when writing about experiences from her own point of view, it can be hard to transcribe those elements into words that can connect with others. Making that connection can be difficult, but not impossible.

Davis described “Duplex” as a collection of short stories where the time frame is futuristic and almost fantasy-like. The novel teeters on the edge of dreams and reality.  

When Davis took the stage, she decided to read a chapter in the book, “The Rain of Beads.”

Davis told a tale of a young girl, Janice, who saw the world differently than those around her.

She believed everything that she was told to be false was true and develops a relationship with her dance partner, a living robot. 

“They danced and they danced. The robot knew exactly how to lead the girl to make it seem like she knew what she was doing,” she read.

The chapter bounced between the dark and light elements of the world, one in which fantasy has the ability to take over the mind. Davis said the inspiration, or rather the idea for the novel, came from the place where she grew up as a child. 

She recalled a family in her town that acted in a way that she could only describe as robotic.

“There was just something off about the family, and although as a child growing up, we never said the Abbots were robots … that was the only explanation,” she said.

Davis discussed the nature of her metaphors, which could have a deeper purpose or simply be a way to get the reader to think past his or her own world and experiences. 

The entire book plays with the notion that everything could be a metaphor, she said. 

“‘Duplex’ is like a realistic love story crossed with a kind of dystopian fantasy crossed with a kind of fairytale,” she said.

When it comes to the University in particular, Williams said these events could create a good student following, where the benefits can be tremendous for those who continuously attend.

“It can become a really deep experience of the years at Rutgers, some people have been coming all four years, and by the time they’re seniors, they will have seen nearly 40 imminent writers,” she said.

Gushu Qin, a graduate student, attended the event as part of a requirement but found the book interesting, 

“When the lady talked about the love the young girls had, I found that to be a relatable topic,” she said. 

Megan Dougherty

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