That's not fair, really. The stove has been absolutely wonderful. The only thing cruel about it is that I have to leave it behind, and it's pink, entirely glowingly pink. With mustard yellow accents. So perfectly 1960s -- high-end modern readapted for suburban use 1960s. My wonderful stove, to be departing for an apartment building in Westwood tomorrow.
This is the near-to-last bit of decommissioning of my belongings for the move to Pittsburgh. Tomorrow. I still have to pack a fish (dead), 2 cats (live) and 14 t-shirts. I don't recall the final tally of boxes of books (22? 28?) but I know as enormous as it looked it my apartment, it became small and wan in the vast truck.
I was lucky to say goodbye to Jim and Mark and we talked about books, which I hope I'll get to do a lot of in school. All books. All the time. Boxes and boxes and boxes of 'em.
The cool new MetaxuCafe, all-litblogs, all-the-time, has decided to let me post about literary podcasts. I should post there very soon. I should also post a new literary podcast in this very spot very soon.
However, I am working on an enormous paper, luckily about books I love. It's my last bit of undergraduate work ever, and it would be fun if it weren't 35 pages long. I mean, on its way to being 35 pages long.
I am extraordinarily grateful to the professor who has just given me an extension until Monday. But if she were answering the door here, she might say, we're sorry, but Carolyn can't come out and play.
MFA programs churn out middling, formulaic writers.
Maybe MFA programs in writing are a little like studying jazz performance. You'll get a lot of practice, and with practice you get better. If you get really good, you'll be able to play in the backing band for just about anybody. You probably realize, as a jazz musician, that greatness comes from a crazy alchemy of risk and timing and the artistic dialogue you have with other musicians. Maybe you'll get lucky and be a long-lived legend, like Louis Armstrong; maybe you'll be mainstream and respectable like Winton Marsalis; maybe you'll be known by your peers and have some odd popculture breakthrough, like Herbie Hancock. But you know that you'll only be the next Charlie Parker or Miles Davis
with a lot of luck and probably a lot of damage to your internal organs. Chance are, though, most everybody -- even some of the most talented -- will end up on the backline.
MFA programs help writers be pretty good but not great. Lincoln says they don't seem to affect the greatness to shit ratio you'd find anywhere. Who can expect them to do better? It's the writers who bear the responsibility to take the risks (both personal and artistic) that make their work interesting.
As many flaws as MFA programs have, they're part of a system that is somewhat functional. It's up to the wrtiters to use them for what they're good fort: contacts. And practice.
My 19th C. Brit Lit class is now reading Hardy's Return of the Native and Bleak House by Charles Dickens. And I have finally figured out that if I bring my laptop to campus, I can just turn it on and hook up with the wifi. This college thing is kinda cool.
I'm liking both these latest books. It's odd, we've done nothing but read major classics, yet I'd read none of them. Maybe somebody should put a moratorium on new writing until we can all just Milton-ize and get caught up.
My reading list so far: Emma by Jane Austen Villette by Charlotte Bronte Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon Bleak House by Charles Dickens Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
Then two more, including a Sherlock Holmes mystery. If you want to catch up on your classics, I can heartily say it's a great idea, but you might give the Trollope a pass.
For about half a second I actually worried about what to wear. If I'd be the only one taking notes on paper. What I'd say if I got called on. After parking, I wondered how I ended up walking down The Row, the same chilling fraternity/sorority tableau it was way back when. I would like to say that 28 semesters' absence makes everything different at college, but the changes are minor: there's a 2-story white colonial in the front yard of my freshman dorm and Sorority Rush is now called Panhellenic Recruitment. Otherwise things are the same — the bookstore doesn't have the required reading, a class with a promising syllabus is disappointing, a part-time lecturer falls short, freshmen cause massive hallway traffic jams without realizing there are back stairs. I'm hoping day two will have some surprises — like maybe the freshmen will begin to learn how to get around.