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Local critic weaves a tale of baseball, jazz and Bruce Springsteen

Scott Redmond

Sacramento Bee critic Marcus Crowder regales the audience with a tale of Bruce Springsteen on Feb. 21

Scott Redmond, Online Editor

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The quiet atmosphere of the bookstore was broken with the low hum of the refrigeration units and the occasional cash register transaction as a group of 20 individuals gathered on Feb. 21 for the latest reading in the campus literary series.

Cold metal folding chairs filled the center of the store as English professor Heather Hutcheson stood before the crowd of 20 to introduce the day’s speaker: Marcus Crowder of The Sacramento Bee.

Serving as the theater critic for the Sac Bee was just one of the career highlights mentioned during the introduction before the man, dressed casually in black pants and a button up shirt, took to the podium and began to speak.

“People ask me how you become a writer,” Crowder said to the small crowd. “It’s simple and hard. [The] simple and obvious one is you start writing.”

Crowder mentioned one of his former editors giving him words of advice that spoke to what was hard about becoming a writer.

“Writing is the hardest work that doesn’t involve heavy lifting,” Crowder said as he related the editor’s words. “There’s no such thing as writer’s block. I have to write. People are waiting for me to write. I can’t say I’m not feeling it. I have to feel it.”

Cosumnes River College’s Literary Series is a program held jointly by the Hawks Nest Bookstore and the English department and is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

“We find people whose work we think students would love and whose work we’ve admired over the years and who we wouldn’t have access to on a regular basis in our classrooms,” Hutcheson said. “These are people where additional funding makes a big difference in getting them here.”

Crowder was the third featured event in the Literary Series for the 2012-2013 school year. Pulling from his body of work, Crowder read a piece that he wrote for the Sacramento News & Review in the early 1990s that came at the time when the San Francisco Giants were moving to a new stadium.

Standing behind the podium with a microphone in hand, Crowder wiped at his brow as his booming voice resonated through the room, painting a picture of his youth. He spoke of his relationship with his father and the love of baseball they shared.

Previously Crowder read from a story that focused on jazz and another that focused on Bruce Springsteen. While all three were different they shared one thing in common: they were all stories that were personal to the writer and were infused with his own experiences and feelings.

“You can’t write about everything,” Crowder said. “Write what is important to you.”

With the readings finished, the presentation began to wind down as the floor was opened to questions. One of the last things imparted by the writer was his view on approaching writing.

“You have to like the process of writing,” Crowder said. “You do have to like it. The writing will go out in the world and you’ll hopefully get a response, but you’ll spend more time writing than anything else. Embrace the process.”

Applause greeted the speaker’s final words as the steady hum of the refrigeration units slowly started to fill the room again as the crowd began to file out.

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Local critic weaves a tale of baseball, jazz and Bruce Springsteen