Stanford Book Club with Sara Houghteling



/ September 21, 2013
Saturday, 09.21.2013,
10:00 am
2:00 pm

Palo Alto

Stanford Continuing Studies Book Club

Stanford Continuing Studies is launching a cool new book club this fall, and they’ve generously invited me to be the first featured guinea pig author. It’s a two-Saturday class taught by the inimitable Sara Houghteling, author of Pictures at an Exhibition. The full description is below…

The new Continuing Studies Book Club series will offer students an opportunity to discuss groundbreaking works, meet authors, and find fellow enthusiastic readers. This two-day workshop meets on consecutive Saturdays. a lecturer from our on-campus Creative Writing Program will guide students through a presentation and discussion of the book during the first class meeting, and the author will visit the class in the second week. We will do some creative writing of our own as well, but students with no writing experience are welcome.

Scott Hutchins’ A Working Theory of Love

The Fall 2013 Book Club selection is Scott Hutchins’ acclaimed debut novel, A Working Theory of Love, which The New York Times calls “clever, funny and very entertaining.” In it, Hutchins tells the story of Neill Bassett, who is haunted by a computer he is helping design to sound like his own late father. Bassett thinks he is in a race to develop consciousness in a computer—what he does not realize is that the real quest is much closer to his own heart. Throughout, Hutchins lovingly captures the zeitgeist of Silicon Valley, and calls on storied scientific and literary history as well—from the diaries of Samuel Pepys, to the fantasies of E.T.A. Hoffmann, to the Turing Test’s famous contest of man versus machine.

The workshop will begin with a lecture and discussion of A Working Theory of Love, in which we examine Hutchins’ writerly craft, his literary forebears and philosophical underpinnings. We will then focus on students’ own writing, experimenting with writing about place and the challenge of blending fiction with technology. The centerpiece of our second meeting will be an extensive question-and-answer session with Hutchins, who is currently a Jones Lecturer in the Department of English at Stanford and a former Stegner Fellow. Students will leave the course having had an in-depth literary and historical look at a very modern novel, a firsthand understanding of an important new author’s writing process, and with the beginnings of several writing projects of their own.

Sara Houghteling


Sara Houghteling is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, San Francisco Chronicle Best of 2009 Book, and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. She has received a Fulbright scholarship, a Camargo Fellowship, the Ribalow Prize, and the Wallant Award. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Houghteling received an MFA from the University of Michigan.

WSP 56

Saturdays, September 21 and September 28
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
$165 Limit: 40
Special refund deadline: September 14