March 10, 2002 11:00 pm

Al Habegger, author of a recent biography of Emily Dickinson, will give a reading from My Wars are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson at a Blue Mountain Forum at 2 p.m. March 17 at Stang Manor, 1612 Walnut St.

The forum is free but space is limited. People who would like to attend are asked to make reservations by calling Jennie Tucker of the Blue Mountain Forum at 534-2990.

In addition to reading from his book, Habegger will take questions and sign books.

A former professor of English at the University of Kansas, Habegger, who lives in Flora, uses newly available letters and original research to understand Dickinsons development as a writer.

He says of Dickinson I saw lots of students latch onto her in a way they didnt with other writers. Theres something strange that happens, a process of identification ... They read a few poems and they catch on, they see into this person and understand what makes her tick.

Thats an illusion, he says, very, very much an illusion. Theres an element of blank space with this writer and people project themselves onto her in very powerful ways.

Publishers Weekly calls the book as good as literary biography gets. His previous books include Gender, Fantasy and Realism in American Literature, Henry James and the Woman Business, The Father: A Life of Henry James, Sr., two works of fiction, A Little Spoon, and Dupine Tracks J.J., and a long list of articles and essays.

He also served as editor for two works, The Bostonians, by Henry James, and the Henry James segment of the Heath Anthology of American Literature.

Although Habegger lives beyond the sidewalks and lives without electricity, he can be reached by e-mail. Questions about his work can be directed to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The forum is co-sponsored by Stang Manor, Sunflower Books and the English Club at Eastern Oregon University.

From Observer staff reports