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May 19, 2018 10am - 6pm
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Richard Seldin—Below the Line in Beijing

Posted By: Robin Materese

April 10, 2016

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by Richard Seldin

In my early 20s, I’d imagined becoming a creative writer. This notion was mainly expressed in a few poorly written, unpublished short stories and poems, a number of rambling notes scribbled on paper napkins, and hitchhiking trips—a la the Beats—between New York and Mexico. I’d also whipped through a host of jobs that might qualify as “valuable” background experience for a writer—nightclub busboy and waiter, caterer’s aide, industrial spy in a sweater factory, taxi driver, hotel night clerk, and even small-town, gambling casino operator.

But as life would have it, my writing career actually began in a much less romantic way several years later at Fordham Law School where I was managing editor of the Fordham Law Review and required to distinguish good legal writing from legalese. Indeed, most of my 30-year career as a federal government lawyer focused on legal writing of one kind or another. While much of my legal work kept me challenged, I also spent considerable time writing fiction and poetry and attempting to become more proficient in Chinese, which I’d begun studying at 19.

Early on, I had several short stories published in American literary magazines. And later, after I returned to the United States from a year’s leave-of-absence in Hong Kong studying Chinese literature, I moonlighted as a freelance Chinese-to-English translator and published translations of several novellas and short stories.

When I left the federal government in 2005, I continued to write, again mainly fiction, both in English and Chinese. Despite publishing several short stories in Chinese, it became clear to me that even if I attained a generous life span of fourscore and ten, I could never express myself as well in Chinese as I could in English. I had just started Chinese too late and hadn’t been consistent enough with it. Thus, I began to write exclusively in English. In November 2013, my sister and I published a collection of poems entitled “Pearls Beneath the Rind,” and in May 2015, International Psychoanalytic Books published the novel, “Below the Line in Beijing,” which I would love to talk to you about at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.


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The Gaithersburg Book Festival is one of the nation's premier literary events, featuring talks and signings by some of the world's top authors, writing workshops, children's activities and performances, literary exhibitors, book sales, music, food, and fun for everyone!
Starts: 05/21/2016 10:00
Duration: 6 hours:
Gaithersburg City Hall, 31 S. Summit Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD
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