Author tests his prose in Suffolk

Published 11:12 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Walking into the North Suffolk Library, Michael Pearson was telling a story of a special friendship, a brotherhood, formed across years and continents between himself and a horse buggy driver in Egypt.

For an hour and a half Tuesday night, Pearson read parts of his latest work, an essay depicting his time spent with the driver while he traveled overseas.

“I love, as a writer, to come to these events and hear what people have to say about what I have seen or what I have written,” Pearson said. “It’s important to get that feedback.”

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While Pearson was there to talk about his latest book “Innocents Abroad Too: Journeys Around the World on Semester at Sea,” he spent the better part of his time reading from an essay that expounded on an experience that is just a chapter in the novel.

“For me, coming out here tonight was mainly selfish,” Pearson said. “I’ve been working on this and I wanted to read (the essay). I wanted to give myself the opportunity to get it out there and see what the response was to it.”

Pearson is not new to the writing game.

“Innocents Abroad Too” is his sixth book. His others are mostly non-fiction works, including “Imagined Places: Journeys into Literary America,” “A Place That’s Known: Essays,” “John McPhee,” and “Dreaming of Columbus: A Boyhood in the Bronx.”

Much like the title suggests, “Innocents Abroad Too: Journeys Around the World on Semester at Sea” tells some of Pearson’s experiences on two trips he took with more than 600 students enrolled for the Semester At Sea program that took students around the globe.

The book has garnered high praise.

In a review for the Syracuse University Press, Lee Gutkind, editor of “In Fact: The Best of Creative Non-fiction” called the book a “compelling narrative of traveling around the world.”

“It is an enlightening and delightful look into great literature, mostly by writers who, like Pearson, embraced the adventure of the voyage, on the road and on the high seas, in vivid and highly informative prose,” Gutkind wrote.

Pearson, who also works as a professor of creative writing for Old Dominion University, said that was the challenge of writing good non-fiction work.

“It’s a narrative and it’s a story,” he said. “But it’s framed within the context of real events.”

Pearson’s books are available on For more information on his books, visit his Web site at