SUNY student writer Andrew Smith:

"I absolutely loved your book. I felt like I was living the life you were creating as I turned each page. I felt that your character development was extremely strong. In fact, the only true one-dimensional character seemed to be Francis. This was only on the surface, though. I felt he had much more inside of him than he was willing to share.

"Nick was a true "hero" character. His actions were very admirable, and yet he had aspects of personality that added so much depth that the entire novel could have solely focused on him. Instead, you added a dual point of view that kept my interest at its peak. I happen to love reading dual perspective pieces, and have written my own this year that I am proud of, so when the narrator switched from Nick to Kit, his mother, I felt the book got even better.

"I felt that this book and these accounts perfectly personify people of that age, the late 60's. I say people because this novel deals with so much more than just one age group. It reflects the emotions and thoughts that all age groups, from 12 to 40 dealt with in that period. All I kept saying as I read further and further was that my father would love this book as much as I was. I felt that if I could be swept away into this world so easily and I was removed by at least 12 years, my father could definitely identify and maybe relive his younger years through the book, being that he would be closer in age to the protagonist.

"I really enjoyed meeting you and talking with you. You've inspired me to write more and hopefully better. I basically just wanted you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed your book and look forward to reading another one."

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SUNY Oneonta Fiction Workshop on The Patience of Rivers

SUNY Oneonta professor Charlotte Zoë Walker assigned The Patience of Rivers to her Fiction Workshop, and had Joseph Freda attend a class discussion. Here's what she had to say about the experience:

"The Patience of Rivers by Joe Freda generated more enthusiasm from my fiction writing students than any contemporary work I’ve ever assigned them. Although they were being asked to read as fiction writers, considering what they might learn that would help their own writing, it was clear that students were also reading out of great personal interest. As many of them said, they found it fascinating to discover how much they identified with kids who were their age in the 1960’s. The social and political complexities of that historical time seemed to help them deal with some of the social and political complexities of 2003. And of course, they loved being so close to the legendary Woodstock through the setting and characters of The Patience of Rivers.

"I would love to use this book in a nature literature course or a New York State literature course, because the beautiful descriptions of the protagonist’s connection to the river, his understanding of it, and his love of canoeing all make this an immensely appealing work of nature literature too. The portrait of small-town upstate New York is exquisite, and this was another of the ways that The Patience of Rivers appealed to my students, who grew up in similar small towns, or spent their summer vacations there.

"The class also loved Joe’s visit. They were inspired by the fact that he actually attended our college as an undergraduate – but it was his generosity and spirit that really won them over. As one student wrote, 'As he read from his novel, I felt as if I was there, peering directly into each character’s eye.' Another told me, 'This is the novel I wanted to write!'

"I heartily recommend The Patience of Rivers for college literature classes. And if you can arrange for a reading and a visit from the author, as well, your students will be in for a wonderful experience."

– Charlotte Zoë Walker, Professor of English, State University of New York, College at Oneonta


Fiction workshop students respond:

"Of all the guest speakers I have heard, Joseph Freda seemed to stand apart. His novel The Patience of Rivers is remarkably powerful. He spoke with a frank openness, acknowledging personal doubts and the threat of writer's block. But he explained that one must work through this in order to be a successful writer. He even gave me a helpful exercise to overcome writer's block. I thank Joe for helping me to see that even someone at his level experiences the same problems I do. I was very grateful to have heard him speak. And as a writer I can only hope to tell my story with such honesty."
– Thomas Cola


"Both visits by Joe Freda were very helpful for me and for the class. He was straightforward about his style of writing and about what it takes to be a successful writer. I enjoyed that he spoke of his other career as a graphic designer and that even though you may have another career, writing can flourish throughout your life. I also enjoyed that he reserves an hour or two every morning to write no matter what. I appreciated the exercise on freewriting that he showed us, in order to get ideas down on paper.

"Joe's emphasis on back story reminds me of many screenwriters, George Lucas in particular. In film, Lucas creates an entire universe and lineage for his characters and world, even with people who are onscreen for no more than a minute. Freda does similar things, which is very cool to me. Creating an entire history of characters and towns and families is an impressive feat and can act as a vault of never-ending ideas for stories.

"Overall, Joe Freda provided a lot of great information and a valuable learning experience for me. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him."
– Jim Mauceri


"The Patience of Rivers is a great book. As Joseph Freda read from his novel, I felt as if I was there, peering directly into each character's eye. Although his characters were in an earlier setting, I can relate their issues to those faced by today's teenagers.

"There were many emotional parts of the story. The struggle between money and pride was a huge issue. I liked Freda's narration, telling each character's position and thoughts. One of his strengths is description. It's very detailed and poetic. When I read The Patience of Rivers, it felt right. I am glad that Joseph Freda could actually be here to read the book and answer questions that popped up in my mind."
– Roxanne Moore


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