Local writers share lesbian, golf stories

Diane Ayres and Harry Groome spoke as part of the Kelly Writers House Spotlight Series.

The Daily Pennsylvanian
February 07, 2003

A nude model, a gardener and a dental assistant all have something in common -- they are former occupations of novelist Diane Ayres, one of last night's guests at the Kelly Writers House.

She and writer Harry Groome both came to Penn as part of the Writers House Spotlight Series in order to have an intimate reading with their personal guests as well as others from the Penn community.

Describing her novel "about relationships between women, set in the mid-'70s when feminism hit," Ayres talked of her work as "a satire of the college-women genre."

After a risque introduction by her husband Stephen Fried, Ayres discussed her newly published novel Other Girls and then proceeded to read passages to an enthralled audience.

Laughing hysterically at stories about a "college freshperson" who "gets into trouble by hearing fights between a lesbian couple" downstairs, the packed crowd at the Writers House could not wait for more.

Giggling at her own anecdotes, Ayres said, "When you write a book, you forget what's in it."

Scott Edward Anderson introduced the evening's second guest, declaring that "Harry Groome has a gift for the story," and then added, "He thankfully has never posed in the nude."

The attendees were not to be disappointed with Groome either.

Although he recently finished his first novel Wing Walking Groome chose to read a short story -- "Club Champion" -- about a former golf club champ and disgruntled retiree Wally.

"The stories were very compelling, and I was drawn in by both narratives," said Kerry Sherin Wright, director of the Kelly Writers House.

She explained that this was all part of the Writers House "Spotlight Series, which features talented local writers whose work we admire."

When Groome spoke about inviting friends and family to come hear him read, he jokingly told the audience that "it took on the character of being invited to my birthday party -- no one wanted to say no!"

A personal friend who came to see Groome read and also a first- timer at the Writers House, Lew Manges said that "the readings were great."

And even those who were not immediate friends enjoyed themselves.

"One of the best parts about working here is getting to see all the guests," College freshman Matt Rosenbaum declared, adding that "it's exciting to be exposed to" this atmosphere.

Both Ayres and Groome are closely affiliated with the University. For years, Ayres acted as an instructor at the annual Young Writer's Conference here at Penn, and Groome himself is a 1963 College graduate.

A project in its second year, this was the second reading in the Spotlight Series during this school year, and two more are planned for the sprin.