Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Francine Prose: One in a Million

When I walked out of the elevator of the seventh floor of the William and Anita Newman Library Building, I saw posters and flyers telling all that Francine Prose was amongst us.  To be honest, at first I didn’t truly understand the magnitude of having such an accomplished writer at Baruch willing to talk to Macaulay Honors Students about her life’s work.  I soon realized this was a privilege not just a mandatory part of my Arts in New York City course.  Professor Roslyn Bernstein and the rest of the esteemed Baruch College staff had nothing but praises regarding Francine Prose and the novels she wrote, including the book my fellow classmates and I recently read, Reading Like a Writer.

The night began with a few people stepping up to the podium telling the audience about Francine Prose and her successful career.  The respect for her was evident from the first words out of their mouths.  One thing I learned from the experience with Francine Prose was that “Hansel and Gretel” holds a completely different meaning than it used to.  From my childhood, I remember the old tale about a witch wanting to eat two children.  It is safe to say that Francine Prose put a truly original spin on this narration enticing listeners from the beginning of the story.  Her version of “Hansel of Gretel” was a rendition of a true story that left the audience asking themselves different questions.  It was amazing to witness and listen to how a somewhat boring event was transformed into an interesting, enticing piece of literature.

Following Prose’s narration of her version of “Hansel and Gretel” was a question and answer session.  All throughout the reading of the short story I racked my brain trying to think of the perfect question to ask, but my attempts were unsuccessful.  As the question and answer session ended, I was shocked to see almost everyone in the cramped room, flock to Francine Prose whether it was to sneak in another question or just get her signature.  I said to myself, “I may never get another chance to meet another highly accomplished writer.”  I didn’t hesitate in knowing that I should also get up and encounter this talented writer.  As she handed the book back to me with her signature on the first page, she was answering another student’s question.  I overheard her saying was that she remembered what it was like to be in college reading countless books that bored her to death.  I laughed to myself for this is how I have always felt since the beginning of high school.  I was comforted to discover that she is a very down to earth person, being able to relate to an ordinary college student like myself.  It was astonishing to learn that such a renowned writer and celebrity like Francine Prose, was just another person trying to make a living, one novel at a time.