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Eckerd Alumni Tracy Crow '02 Picks Up Bronze, Dennis Lehane '88 Garners Gold in Florida Book Awards

posted on 02/22/2013

Two Eckerd alumni with strong connections to the College are winners of 2012 Florida Book Awards: Tracy Crow '02, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, received the bronze medal in the General Non Fiction category for her memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine; Dennis Lehane '88, Co-Director/Co-Founder of the Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise, received the gold medal in the General Fiction catgeory for his New York Times bestselling crime novel, Live by Night.

Established in 2006, the Florida Book Awards honors the best work written by Florida authors and about Florida culture in the previous year.

Eyes Right by Tracy Crow

Eyes Right is the personal account of Tracy Crow's service as a military journalist in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1977 to 1987. She describes the book as being about "overcoming an abusive childhood, breaking the cycle of alcoholism within my family, taking enormous risks in the Marines... and ultimately sacrificing everything for the larger good." 

Crow's reaction to the book's recent accolade is motivation for her next endeavor. "As a writer, I'm always hoping to produce work that will resonate with someone. But this recognition from the Florida Book Awards is an honor so unexpected and appreciated—and just the kick in the pants I need to get back to work on my newest project."

Professor Crow teaches journalism and creative nonfiction, and serves as the faculty adviser to the college's award-winning student newspaper, The Current. She earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and her literary nonfiction, three times nominated for the Pushcart Prize, has appeared in the Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Puerto del Sol, and others. Her short story, "Natural Selection," was recently anthologized alongside work from Tim O'Brien, Tobias Wolff, and Kurt Vonnegut in the Press 53 collection, Home of the Brave. She also serves as the nonfiction editor of Press 53's online literary journal, Prime Number Magazine.

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

Live by Night, Dennis Lehane's tenth novel, is a Prohibition Era gangster story with cigar-laden Ybor City, Fla., as its backdrop. Mr. Lehane, who divides his time between Florida's West Coast and Boston, is pleased that his latest work is being recognized in the Sunshine State.

I'm honored. Each of my books, with the exception of Shutter Island, is a love letter to an urban neighborhood. Until Live by Night, all those neighborhoods happened to be in Boston, but Ybor City sank its teeth into me when I was an undergrad at Eckerd in the 80s. Even so, no one was more surprised than me when I found myself writing about it. I love what Ybor represents—it's the melting pot in its purest form, a neighborhood forged and defined by immigrants in a country that needs to always remember it was forged and continues to be defined by immigrants. I just hope that anyone who grew up there and/or lives there now and happens across Live by Night says, "Dang. He nailed it." Or at the very least, "He didn't embarrass us."

Dennis is a 1988 graduate of Eckerd's creative writing program and the former student of novelist Sterling Watson and poet Peter Meinke. As the author of a highly successful series of Boston detective novels, his work has been lauded internationally. He has written for the HBO drama series The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, taught in the Pine Manor MFA program, and co-founded the weeklong Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise with Professor Watson, the Peter Meinke Chair in Literature and Creative Writing.

Mr. Lehane was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Eckerd College when he delivered the Commencement remarks in May 2005 and was appointed to Eckerd's Board of Trustees later that year. He now serves on the College's National Advisory Council.

Actor-director-screenwriter Ben Affleck has selected Live by Night as his next project. Three of Lehane's previous novels—Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone; and Shutter Island—have been adapted into award-winning films and directed by Clint Eastwood, Affleck and Martin Scorcese, respectively.

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