On Thursday, October 6, Lee Child presented a lecture on "The Social Value of Crime Fiction" in celebration of the Mary Higgins Clark Chair in Creative Writing. Child is a best-selling author and creator of the "Jack Reacher" series. Higgins Clark (FCLC ’79) has written 42 books which have sold 100 million copies in the United States alone.
A $2 million pledge to Fordham University by the alumna has made the endowed chair in her name possible. The Mary Higgins Clark Chair in Creative Writing will bring distinguished authors in a variety of genres to lead workshops, seminars and master classes to upper-level undergraduates and graduate students at Fordham.
The Reverend Robert T. Grimes, S.J., Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, and Leonard Cassuto of the English and American Studies Departments introduced Child and his work before turning the podium over to the lecturer himself.
Before beginning his lecture proper, Child shared fond memories of time shared with Higgins Clark and details of how her work has influenced him as a writer. He cited his number one reason for accepting the honor from Fordham as the opportunity to compliment Higgins Clark "without her shushing or slapping me."
"Mary Higgins Clark is a friend to any mystery writer in the New York metro area. She is a distant and glamorous figure that became my friend. She is a fountain of advice and an example."
Child situated his lecture some 200,000 years ago by asking the question "Why would humans invent storytelling?" If everything that humans did at this evolutionary stage was to enhance their chances of survival, Child reasoned that fiction must have served such a purpose and continues to do so today.
Lee posited that crime fiction and suspense are sources of encouragement that make people believe that they can face danger and survive it. "Mary's stories put an ordinary person—often a young woman—in peril, agony, doubt, fear, and 300 pages later, she has survived."
"Storytelling is all about consoling yourself, empowering yourself, getting things you don't get in real life. Very frustrating realities are worked out in the fantasy worlds of thriller and crime novels."
Following Child's Lecture, Higgins Clark briefly addressed the audience to thank Child and the University. She reflected on her relationship with Fordham and her life as a writer, saying, "The one gift that God gave me was to be a writer and it is a blessed, blessed, blessed gift."
The Reverend Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University, closed the night's ceremonies with reflections on the lecture and praise for Child and Higgins Clark. "I'm a huge fan. I take Jack Reacher with me on every flight I go on when I go fundraising—and now I know why. I came to this evening as a fan and I leave as a student."
Read more about the event here: http://bit.ly/2e3jRPK