On Wednesday, May 7, Caxton Club presented acclaimed author Criz Mazza in the Alumni Room of Old Main. Mazza, a native of Southern California who received her Master of Fine Arts at City University of New York-Brooklyn, currently teaches at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of many works of fiction, a memoir, a collection of personal essays, and co-edited the original Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction anthology. Mazza gave a reading of a scene from her recent book Waterbaby.
Waterbaby blends together the story of Tam, a former Olympic swimmer whose career was ended by epilepsy, with two legends surrounding a lighthouse on the coast of Maine. The first tale of the lighthouse entails a haunting by a woman who drowned herself in the water, while the second is that of a baby who was mysteriously rescued from a shipwreck during a storm. Tam goes to the lighthouse to learn about her family’s past after being asked to by her sister. The lighthouse of the story is based off of a real lighthouse in Maine with similar legends visited by Mazza, who is descended from lighthouse keepers. Mazza also believes the spirit that haunts the lighthouse may be responsible for strange events involving the publication of Waterbaby, including the inexplicable lack of the book for purchase at the reading that members of Caxton Club could not even explain.
“I think the ghosts I stirred up don’t want this book in anybody’s hands,” she said.
The reading presented by Mazza gave an introduction to the plot of the book as well as the legends of the lighthouse while including one particularly sexually-charged scene. Following the reading was a question/answer session with the audience (occupied primarily by Knox students). When asked about her role as a postmodernist and postfeminist, Mazza responded, “I don’t like being labeled. I don’t think anybody does.”
Though a co-editor of the groundbreaking Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction anthology, Mazza stated that she has never claimed postmodernism. Mazza was also asked about the “highly sexualized” scenes in her writing, including the dynamics of conducting a group reading with one of these scenes.
“To me it’s just a piece of literature, but it’s more than just two people having sex,” she said.
Many of her works were available for purchase and signing after the presentation.
“I enjoy [giving readings] most in situations like this — so many interested people come,” said Mazza while signing books.
“I think I really was intrigued on the new perspective on ghosts and I guess also the comfortable bluntness. I did enjoy it a lot,” said Caxton Club Co-president junior Beth Root.