Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Ghost story has local roots
April 18, 2018

Nicholas Mainieri, the author of The Infinite, is no stranger to Culver.

Mainieri spent Thursday talking with students before serving as the guest speaker at the Writing Center’s “Academies’ Awards for Excellence in Writing” ceremony that evening. Mainieri, the son of former Notre Dame baseball coach Paul Mainieri (now at LSU), grew up in South Bend, went to St. Joseph High School, and was the bullpen catcher for the Irish until he graduated in 2006.

He spent 10 years in New Orleans, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans in 2011 and served as an assistant professor of writing and literature at Nicholls State University in South Louisiana. Mainieri is now back living and working in South Bend. He is a senior counselor in Academic Services for Student-Athletes and works with the women’s soccer, fencing, and baseball teams

The Infinite is his first book, published in 2016. It takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans and across the border in northeastern Mexico. The New York Times review said, “Mainieri is ever sincere, eager to show how borders carve up land and families, and how the dislocated can be tempted by any semblance of human connection.”

Nick Mainieri with some of the excellence in writing award winners.

He has also written several short stories – one that was inspired by an overnight stay in the old Culver motel, Mainieri said.

He was interviewing for an internship position and was the only person staying in the motel that night. Earlier in the day, he had been told the tales of how old jeeps and military vehicles were buried in the marsh to help fill it in. During the night, he envisioned ghostly soldiers coming out of the ground in those vehicles. That led to a short story about a haunted military school. “Not Culver,” he added.

It became the second published piece of his fledgling career and helped Mainieri decide that he should pursue writing as an occupation.

He told the students he writes about what he knows and experiences. The story arcs he has relied on include his experiences in high school, living in New Orleans, and being a bullpen catcher. He added students should pay attention to what is happening around them.

“Be present as much as you possibly can,” he said. “Then, you can shape and polish those experiences into your version of the human of condition.”

Writing Center Director Emily Uebler said 150 entries were submitted for this year’s Academy Awards. This year’s winners and runners-up in each category were:

  • History or politics: Sahara Chen and Janelli Li.
  • Honors Research: Ashley Trube and Abby Ericson.
  • Lit, Art, Film, Music: Janelle Li and Rachel Hutchins
  • Math: Erin Postma and Yuchen Li
  • Narrative (9-10): Sophia Moore and Grace Nation
  • Narrative (11-12): Alex Mozer and Sarina McCabe
  • Persuasive: Kianna Guo and Mufei Li
  • Poetry (9-10): Madeline Petrucelli and Molly McGrane
  • Poetry (11-12): Alex Mozer and Sophia George
  • Science: Ashley Trube and William Wakeland
  • Short Story: Ashley Trube and Reilly Reinhold
  • Speech: Molly McGrane and Yichen (Sherry) Xie
  • Wellness: Ved Mehta and Adam Davis
  • Overall Winner: Sahara Chen with Game Theory in Cold War Strategies.
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