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Life as Literature: Novelist will Speak on Using Life Experience in Fiction

(Posted March 15, 2010)

Michael Czyzniejewski, author of "Elephants in Our Bedroom

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A person who sells peanuts, hotdogs and beer at a ballpark knows how to market products, and former vendor-turned-novelist Michael Czyzniejewski, will reveal how life experience can inspire literature in a Juniata College lecture at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 23 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Czyzniejewski (pronounced "chiz-ny-ev-ski"), editor in chief of the "Mid-American Review" and a full-time writing instructor at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, has recently published a collection of his short stories, "Elephants in Our Bedroom."

The collection includes short stories Czyzniejewski has created since publishing his first story in "StoryQuarterly" in 1998. Czyzniejewski has been writing much longer than that, however. He started writing as a freshman at the University of Illinois, publishing that first story after receiving 192 rejection letters.

His fiction is full of fantastic situations, strange silences and quiet brooding. The title story for "Elephants in the Bedroom" offers an intriguing opening, "Not long ago, I won an elephant in a card game and now I keep him in my bedroom. As baffling as it seems, my wife hasn't said a word."

"Not long ago, I won an elephant in a card game and now I keep him in my bedroom. As baffling as it seems, my wife hasn't said a word."
From "Elephants in Our Bedroom"

Before pursuing his literary dreams Czyzniejewski worked as a vendor at Chicago's Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. He started at age 15, selling sodas, peanuts, hotdogs and maltcups. Since turning 21, Czyzniejewski sold beer. He also has worked as a vendor in other Chicago sports venues, including Soldier Field, (home of the Chicago Bears) and Comiskey Park, home to the White Sox until 1990.

In between sports jobs, Czyzniejewski kept writing. He graduated from Illinois and then earned a master's degree in fine arts writing at Bowling Green. He worked editing stories at Mid-American Review and assumed duties as editor in chief in 1990.

He still works as a vendor at Wrigley occasionally and is currently working on a novel about the beermen at Wrigley, as well as a collection of short stories.

He has published stories in such journals as "American Literary Review," "Alaskan Quarterly Review," "Quarterly West," "American Short Fiction," "Other Voices," "Another Chicago Magazine," "The Bellingham Review," "Barrelhouse," "Beloit Fiction Journal" and Barn Owl Review."


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.