"I am a Minnesotan by birth and a traveler in wild places by vocation and compulsion." -Paul Gruchow

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Reading(s)

It's a lovely, chilly, sunny November Sunday and the Weather Channel warns of severe wind that could cause power outages. Fantastic. My pot of water is simmering on the stove, adding much needed humidity to the air so I can breathe. If we're going to lose power--which just should not happen--I figure I should already have some humidity going and a pot of tea refilled, just for such an eventuality. And I should really go put that load of laundry in the wash.


As I posted yesterday, I finally feel like I have my life back on track, at least professionally. I have my 150 for next semester figured out and as of yesterday, and a series of traded emails with the delightful Dawn Duncan of Concordia College, Moorhead (who is also my undergraduate Irish lit professor, as well as being my colleague and friend), led to the most spectacular idea and I hope to God it works. I emailed Duncan yesterday to get her take on whether I should assign John Banville's The Untouchable or Sebastian Barry's Annie Dunne for my Intro to Fiction Writing (252) next semester. Knowing what I know about Duncan and Banville and Barry, I figured it would be like trying to get her to choose between her dogs. Duncan is a post colonialist and I'm a writer, so why we would want to teach certain books is based in where we're coming from. She'd rather assign Barry's A Long, Long Way, which led to me asking her given what she knows about that book and about me, would she recommend that I teach a book that I haven't read yet. From there, we discussed Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea, which is on my Field List, but I haven't read that either. And from there, we came up with what could potentially be the most spectacular idea: a collaboration between my creative writing fiction class and her literature class, reading the same book from different perspectives, then talking to each other about those perspectives. I have no idea how it's going to work--all hail the technology!--but I'm going to see Dawn at Thanksgiving and I'm sure we'll work it out. I'm so excited--I hope it works!

Because yesterday's writing was successful, today is devoted to tea and reading. And perhaps the aforementioned laundry, which is a great multi-tasking task. I'm almost through my first pot of Assam, ready for the refill, and on today's reading list is Barry Lopez's Of Wolves and Men. I'm a third of the way through it, basking in the love I already have for Lopez, and I really hope to finish it today. There's something really spectacular about reading that reminds me why I'm a writer. Reading good work--just like reading bad work--teaches you how to think, how to put sentences together, how not to be satisfied with the easy answer. So many books, so little time. Except for today, when I've made the time.

And the tea.

So here's the question of the day: anybody done a collaboration like this before, between a lit class and a creative writing class, reading the same book?

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