The law, children and loneliness

Some people might rest on their laurels after getting into the top law school in the country.

But when Adam Haslett LAW ’02 was accepted to Yale Law School he deferred his enrollment for three years while pursuing creative writing. And the work paid off, with his first book — “You Are Not a Stranger Here” — due to be published in July.

Haslett said the nine short stories in his book share a common theme of loneliness.

“I write and read in order not to feel alone,” Haslett said. “The title is an invitation for people to feel welcome.”

Advance reviews for the book have been good: Jonathan Franzen, the best-selling author of “The Corrections,” said that “Adam Haslett is a wonderful rarity: an old-fashioned young storyteller with something urgent and fresh and fiercely intelligent to say.”

Haslett said law and writing represent two different parts of his mind, and he said he envisions a future career where he divides the year between writing and law.

A graduate of Swarthmore College, Haslett applied only to one law school.

“I liked the academic freedom, the ability of students to structure their own time and the mix of people who may or may not end up practicing law,” Haslett said of Yale. “This place seemed to make sense.”

He added that he was attracted by Yale Law School’s focus on the humanities, and the school’s willingness to allow him to take time off for his writing.

“Yale has been very accommodating of my other life,” he said. “And that makes a difference.”

Before coming to Yale, Haslett worked in an artists’ colony in Provincetown, Mass. and spent two years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

After his first year in New Haven, he took another year off to write.

Many of Haslett’s characters are people in extreme situations, like the institutionalized schizophrenic in his final story, “The Volunteer.” Haslett said he often finds himself writing about situations he has never experienced but can identify with emotionally.

He said his influences include Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner and Henry James.

“I like fiction that has some blood on the floor, that cost the author something to write it,” Haslett said.

For Haslett, writing is a process of what he called “expressive necessity.”

He has a specific routine when he is focusing on his writing: he gets up at 8 a.m., eats breakfast, sometimes meditates and then spends two hours editing his work. Haslett said he generally only keeps about a tenth of what he writes.

Haslett, who said he hopes eventually to write a novel, said he wants to tell a moving story.

“My goal is to move people,” He said. “I’m not concerned with writing as a sheer aesthetic exercise.”

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