Fiction author Christina Milletti reads to students, community members at Baber Room

Christina Milletti speaks about her work on Feb. 20 in the Park Library Baber Room.

Author Christina Milletti made students and community members laugh out loud during her fiction reading.

Milletti, an author and Innovative Writing Professor at the University at Buffalo, read three works from her newest collection of short stories Feb. 20 in the Charles V. Park Library Baber Room

The first story, titled “Now you see her,” illustrated the scene of a magic show in a family home. The whole family in the story loved the magician’s deceptive tricks. However, one little girl in the family was not appreciative of his deceit. Milletti said this story was based on her daughter, who begged to see a magician but was unimpressed with the performance she saw.

“I was really charmed by the moment of realizing what magic is and what magic isn’t,” Milletti said.

Boyne City senior Elizabeth O’Donnell said she has been attending readings at Central Michigan University since her freshman year. She said she likes the variety of writing styles students are exposed to through these readings. Milletti’s reading was different from others O'Donnell has seen because of the humor in the stories, she said.

“I loved laughing,” O’Donnell said. “It was hilarious. I don’t usually hear writers who make me laugh out loud, so this was really refreshing.”

Milletti received laughs from the audience during “The Penitent.” Milletti said the story was written for those who say sorry too often. “The Penitent” featured one side of a conversation in which the speaker repeatedly apologized and showed remorse, despite not having anything to be sorry for. Milletti said the story was meant to reveal the lack of sorry people actually feel in conversations.

“The Penitent” was especially relatable for community member Josh Sisson. 

“I used to say sorry all the time and now I hardly ever use the word,” Sisson said. “After someone pointed out how much I say sorry, I realized the word doesn’t mean anything except that you’re insecure with the situation.”

The longest story Milletti read was “Twelve Inches,” which she said was inspired by Charles Bukowski’s “Six Inches.” In “Twelve Inches,” the speaker describes a peculiar condition her husband has: he has shrunken down to the size of a Ken Doll. Nobody knows why he shrank and nobody knows when or if he will stop shrinking. At the end of the story, the speaker’s husband disappeared and didn’t leave a trace.

Milletti explained her fascination with ambiguity, which is a theme in “Twelve Inches” and a number of her other stories. 

“The ambiguous is a very honest place to live,” Milletti said. “To trust that place as a state of potential and opportunity, not a place of uncertainty and fear is why I find it a very inventive place to situate myself.”

A representative from the CMU Bookstore was at the event so students could purchase Milletti’s short story collection “The Religious and Other Things.” Attendees also had the opportunity to have their book signed by Milletti after the reading.

The fiction reading was part of the Meijer Visiting Writers Series, hosted by the Creative Writing Program. The event was sponsored by The College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Department of English Language and Literature, and the Creative Writing Program.

The next reading in the Meijer Visiting Writers Series will be Poet Melissa Stein on April 25.