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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Novelist pushes pursuit of wisdom, intelligence

Matt+Bondurant
Matt Bondurant

By Grant Rutherford and Tiffany Wade

Reading everything, listening to those in authority and respecting their instructors was the advice handed out by a visiting novelist to NE students April 11.

Matt Bondurant, author of The Third Translation, The Wettest County in the World and The Night Swimmer, visited as part of the campus’ Coffeehouse Conversations series.

“Always keep your ear to the ground, pay attention to those in authority around you and invest yourself in everything that has to do with reading,” he said. “Read. Read everything deeply and wisely.”

Matt Bondurant
Matt Bondurant

Bondurant, 42, told eventgoers he was a late developer, and it wasn’t until about five years ago that he matured.

“I never really paid attention in college,” he said.

With a doctorate in creative writing, Bondurant said becoming an author was a painful and slow process, and, initially, he didn’t think it was possible.

“I didn’t come from a long line of storytellers, so I don’t really see myself as one,” he said. “I just work very hard to construct a dramatic narrative.”

Bondurant got the idea for The Wettest County in the World when he heard that his grandfather, Jack Bondurant, had been shot on a bridge in Franklin County, Va. Knowing the legends prompted him to do research, but he said only a few things were historically documented.

“As a fiction writer, that’s a good thing for me because I can tie in stories how I want and make up a few things,” he said. “It’s all about working within the contexts.”

Bondurant said he did think hard about the mix of fact and fiction.

“I put my trust in that if I tried to tell the story as truthfully as possible, if I represent them as real human beings making real human decisions, that eventually it would come off as some kind of truth,” Bondurant said about writing his own family into the novel. “As long as they weren’t one-dimensional or villains, then I felt that I could make them into real people, but it was definitely something that concerned me.”

Student Susann Harding loved the event.

“I was very excited to meet another author on this campus, especially one who really taught us a lot and made us laugh,” Harding said.

Angel Barsamian, a NE science major, attended as part of a class assignment.

“I honestly didn’t expect to get anything out of it except a grade,” she said, “but it was a very cool and different experience for me, and I’m glad I came.”

A young 91-year-old Fred Bondurant attended in hopes of speaking with the author.

“All Bondurants are related to some degree,” he said. “So I’d like to think we might be related, which to me is pretty neat.”

A fourth-year professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, Bondurant teaches literature and conducts fiction writing workshops. He said workshops and writing conventions are important for beginning writers so they can draw inspiration from other professionals and like-minded individuals.

“If I were to put everyone in a bubble and raise the writers,” he said. “I would have them do nothing but read great books for the first 20 years of their lives, then nothing but contemporary novels for the next eight years and then put pen to paper.”

Bondurant is currently working on his fourth novel, which he expects to be on shelves within the next three or four years. His future is clear.

“This is it,” he said. “I’m a writer. I love to teach, but I’m a writer. There is nothing else.”

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