Invasion of Privacy: Writer, professor offers unique point of view both in novels and in person

Thom Metzger is a unique presence at Geneseo. He can often be seen wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he is a published novelist under several pseudonyms, and he enjoys pork because, "It's the closest to human flesh."

An adjunct lecturer in the English department, Metzger hails from Chili, N.Y. and has graduated twice from Geneseo, once with a bachelor's degree in English literature and again with a master's in library science.

Before he began teaching, Metzger found himself in various positions of employment. He's worked as a columnist for Rochester's City, a valet to the conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic, a toilet cleaner, a librarian and a liquor store clerk.

Metzger describes his varied employments as the resume of a writer, which is really what he considers himself. With ten books already published and a murder mystery in the works, Metzger certainly fits the bill of the prolific writer, working under pseudonyms including "Leander Watts." Yet, Metzger supersedes the author archetype in that he talks about the world in a different way.

Metzger's extraordinary outlook on the world is also evident in his literary preferences. "'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell' [by William Blake] defies category," he said. "It's beautiful and mad."

Madness seems to be a point of fascination for Metzger. He is teaching two classes this semester, one of which is a literary forms course on science fiction. The other is an INTD 105 course entitled, "States of Ecstasy," in which students read literature exploring the various ways in which human beings achieve ecstatic experiences. Included in the study are religion, drugs, poetry and madness.

Metzger professes to write predominately in the slipstream science fiction genre, a style that blurs the lines between science fiction and mainstream storytelling. This way, according to Metzger, the writing appeals to a wider audience and possibly makes the story more accessible to readers who otherwise wouldn't pick it up.

Metzger said that one of his novels, Beautiful City of the Dead, is a "spontaneous human combustion … heavy metal, ritual magic, Rochester novel." Strange and oddly specific, the description, like Metzger and his favorite book, defies category.