08 October 2010

Checking In

Egads, I knew October was going to be a slow month for blogging, but this is my first post since September 24...

What have I been up to, you ask?  (Well, no you don't.  But I'm going to pretend you do.  Allow me a few of my delusions, please!  I gave up on world peace and my imaginary friends, so can't I at least have this?!?)

What I've been up to is mostly just the ordinary stuff of life, which for me right now primarily means teaching at two different schools, one a university, the other a high school, in a schedule that's leading to a bit of brain discombobulation.  A lot of preparation for next term's classes, too, particularly the Gender & Science Fiction one at Plymouth State -- all the suggestions from folks were helpful, because even in the case of things I was already considering, it's helped me focus.  I still have a week till I have to turn in book orders, so I haven't settled on much yet, but I do know I'll be using The Left Hand of Darkness, and that's a direct result of all of the comments in its favor.

I got an email recommendation of Karen Traviss's novels (not her media tie-ins), and so I picked up a copy of City of Pearl, read it, and really enjoyed it.  I'm told some of the later books in the series are even better, so I look forward to reading them, though for some reason the second book, Crossing the Line, is out of print in the U.S.  Why this is, I don't know -- the others all seem to be in print.  Weird...  For the class, if I use one of Traviss's books, it will be City of Pearl, and not only because I don't have time to read any of the others between now and when book orders are due, but because it looks like the series is the sort that really needs to be read in order.

Among the many other books I'm reading at the moment is the great Gabriel Josipovici's Whatever Happened to Modernism?, which I'm reviewing for Rain Taxi (it will be one of those reviews that's really more about an encounter with a book than any sort of critique of it -- I would be a fool to pretend I am qualified to argue with someone as well-read as Josipovici).  The response to the book in the UK has been strange, sometimes vitriolic, and often inaccurate in how it represents what Josipovici is up to, as Stephen Mitchelmore quite brilliantly shows in a recent blog post that is one of the best pieces of writing about a text that I've seen in a while.  I don't expect my own piece on the book to be either as analytical or as simpatico with Whatever Happened to Modernism?, not because I expect to disagree with the overall argument (many of the writers I most revere are modernists; I seldom write about them because I've rarely found a form in which doing so feels like anything more than pathetic groping; very little current fiction truly and deeply affects me in the way so many works by Kafka, Beckett, Woolf, and others do), but because I think I usually read for different purposes and with different expectations from Josipovici.  After all, half the time I'm reading popular fiction of some sort or another.  So we'll see...

In other topics, I made some of my students read Gary Lutz's amazing essay "The Sentence is a Lonely Place".  I don't think many of the students finished it or even got much beyond the first few paragraphs, but I keep bringing it up in class and reading little sections to them, which will probably lead to lots of course evaluations that say things along the lines of, "The instructor is insane, repetitive, and way too obsessed with sentences," but so it goes.  It's a writing class, and couldn't a writer be defined as somebody who's way too obsessed with sentences?

I expect things to continue to be pretty slow around here until about the middle of November.  Or not; it's hard to predict.

Meanwhile, because of limited time, I've been doing more with Twitter than anything else, though even there I'm not prolific.

And I probably owe you an email.