Last summer, when his book “The Long Walk” was being heralded by critics and readers alike for its moving account of life in and after war, local writer Brian Castner found himself surprised at the amount of attention but also was enjoying the whirlwind.
“I feel saturated. I feel like a stereo speaker that’s been cranked up to 12,” Castner told The Buffalo News at the time.
The attention may have modulated somewhat since then, but there is no sign of anyone hitting the “pause” button for Castner, a Grand Island resident.
In October, American Lyric Theater in New York City announced it would be producing an opera based on Castner’s book, which is a deeply personal and often painful recounting of his experiences in the Iraq War and his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder since his return home. The opera’s composer is Jeremy Howard Beck; libretto is by Stephanie Fleischmann.
Next Wednesday at 7 p.m., listeners will get a first glimpse at how the opera is progressing when ALT presents a reading of “The Long Walk” at the National Opera Center in New York as part of its Living Libretto series. On his blog, Fever Dreams, Castner says he plans to attend.
On the ALT website, Beck and Fleischmann explain why they were drawn to Castner’s story:
“The book’s directness and immediacy grabs you by the throat and pulls you into its harrowing world,” they write. “We were moved by the candor of Brian’s voice, the intense camaraderie of the EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] unit, the off-kilter sense of alienation at home, and so much more. The devastating suspense inherent in Brian’s story held us in its thrall.”
– Melinda Miller