Monday, December 29, 2008

Fabulous book. Too bad about the title.

I have just finished reading the most wonderful novel with a wretched title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This title ranks right up there with Snowflower and the Secret Fan and is therefore destined to a be a sleeper for awhile. Ignore the title. Even more importantly, ignore the bookjacket blurb. Just start reading right away. I never would have done so if I hadn't been stuck in the Charlotte airport, forced to choose between potato peel something or other and Danielle Steele. Luckily for me, I chose really, really well and I have not been able to put it down until just now. Full of heartbreakingly funny characters who only make appearances in letters, this novel is the story of a writer who accidentally discovers an island full of extraordinary people who survived WWII together. One means of resistance on this island during its years of German Occupation was a "literary society" that kept the islanders meeting together after curfew to talk about books. Though none of the members was particularly literary to begin with, they all seem to have gained something from the group and the reading. One man only reads the letters of Seneca over and over again; one never fully recovers from Cathy's ghost scratching at the window in Wuthering Heights (and who has, really?); and one falls for Charles Lamb. The latter, Dawsey Adams, finds an address in the Lamb book, and writes to its previous owner to ask if there are any other Lamb works out there. The previous owner, Juliet Ashton, happens to be a writer herself in London, and here begins a correspondence that brings her to the island of Guernsey in 1946, ostensibly in search of a new story to write about. The entire novel is told through letters, which is a large part of its charm. And of course there is a love story. This is a pretty botched summary but I am still full of Christmas ham and unable to focus too intently on this entry. I may go read the novel again instead. It is that good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving break

I have three books to read and five days in which to read them: The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, and, it seems eternally, A Prayer for Owen Meany (last 100 pages).

I started Netherland this morning and it does ring of The Great Gatsby. Looks like most of the action is going to take place in Staten Island instead of West or East Egg, and maybe instead of Gatsby's parties we'll be reading about cricket matches. I'm only on page ten, but already a dead body has floated up on the scene, though in a canal instead of a swimming pool. Anyway, I'm excited about the book! Here's a snippet:

"The day was thick as a jelly, with a hot, glassy atmosphere and no wind, not even a breeze from the Kill of Kull, which flows less than two hundred yards from Walker Park and separates Staten Island from New Jersey. Far away, in the south, was the mumbling of thunder.It was the kind of barbarously sticky American afternoon that made me yearn for the shadows cast by scooting summer clouds in northern Europe, yearn even for those days when you play cricket wearing two sweaters under a cold sky patched here and there by a blue tatter - enough to make a sailor's pants, as my mother used to say" (7).

I can't help including this review on the back cover because who knows when I will get a chance to write my own:

"The wittiest, angriest, most exacting , and most desolate work of fiction we've yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Center fell...I devoured it in three thirsty gulps, gulps that satisfied a craving I didn't know I had...It has more life inside it than ten very good novels." ~ Dwight Garner, The New York Times Review of Books

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

Loved it! Here's my favorite quote. For any die-hard ping pong players or Klingensteiners out there - this one's for you:

"I quickly learned that Stanley doesn't play the kind of Ping-Pong I'm used to. The paddles and ball are the same, but in his hands it isn't a polite parlor activity so much as a full-blown, strenuous sport, a demonic, miniaturized form of tennis. He delivers his serves with a devastating, unhittable topspin, stands ten feet back from the table, and counters every shot I make as though I am no more skilled than a four-year-old. He beats me three straight times - 21-0, 21-0, 21-0 - and once the massacre is over, there's nothing I can do but bow humbly to the victor and drag my exhausted body out of the barn" (181).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"American Stories" by Roger Cohen

A great American story in the New York Times today - happy voting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First Quarter Update

Right now, this very minute, I am supposed to be writing comments and grading like mad. The quarter ends at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow. Since I'm reflecting on all my students' work, I thought I might take a minute to reflect on mine. What have I been doing this fall? Here's an update a la Bridget Jones:

No. of new books read = 0
No. of old books reread = 2 x 2
No. of papers graded = around 300?
No. of report card comments written =32/60
No. of hours spent on Facebook= ?
No. of hours spent on Facebook's scrabble game=3
No. of times I have won scrabble= 0
No. of times I have fallen in love with Dickinson's poetry again =70
No. of times I'm reminded of how much I love my job= countless
No. of slices of pizza I can eat in one sitting=3!

Back to the grading. One of these days - very soon - I will read a new book. I have to read Brooklyn Follies by November 14 at the very least for my book club.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

American Wife

Nothing like a good review to get me fired up about this blog for a minute. I am definitely reading Curtis Sittenfeld's new book, American Wife, if I ever finish grading. See here for Joyce Carol Oates's review.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Art of Doing Nothing

Today it's the kind of hot where, if you have AC, its not worth the trouble to leave it. I've done very little today and felt pretty guilty about it, too. That is until about an hour ago when I thought it might be worth practicing the art of doing nothing. These passages from The Great Gatsby were coming to mind, the ones that capture the ennui and the heat of that hot Long Island summer. Daisy and Jordan practically melting into the furniture, for example:

The only completely stationery object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor(12).

Or later in the summer when the heat makes them crazy enough to drive into the city and cram up in the Plaza Hotel for an afternoon. Now this is the kind of heat I'm talking about, when a breeze is only slightly more refreshing than exhaust:

The prolonged and tumultuous argument that ended by herding us into that room eludes me, though I have a sharp physical memory that, in the course of it, my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs and intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back. The notion originated with Daisy's suggestion that we hire five bathrooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as "a place to have a mint julep." Each of us said over and over that it was a crazy idea - we all talked at once to a baffled clerk and thought, or pretended to think, that we were being very funny...

The room was large and stifling, and, though it was already four o'clock, opening the windows admitted only a gust of hot shrubbery from the Park. Daisy went to the mirror and stood with her back to us fixing her hair.

"It's a swell suite," whispered Jordan respectfully and everyone laughed.

"Open another window," commanded Daisy, without turning around.

"There aren't anymore."

"Well, we'd better telephone for an axe --" (133).

So in lieu of a breeze, I've found this great mint-flavored sparkling water at Whole Foods. Brings the temp down a few degrees. Here's to Gatsby and to doing as a little as possible on this hot Sunday afternoon...

Friday, July 25, 2008

in the middle

I'm in the middle of several books right now - can't just keep it to one. I remember a professor at W&L once telling me that she would read five or six books at time, and I couldn't remotely fathom that. Well, here I am, stewing over which one to pick up this morning. To add to the pile, I really want to get Rick Bragg's new book The Prince of Frogtown, which is a memoir about this father. If you haven't read Rick Bragg yet, go now to and order anything you can get your hands on. He is that good. I still think he has one of the best first lines ever in Ava's Man. He opens by describing his grandmother: "She was old all my life." Ahh. See what I mean?

So what I will probably pick up this am is Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. I'm teaching this right after March in my War in American Literature course this fall. I had no idea whether or not I would be able to play these two off of each other, but already I'm seeing some good connections, which makes me so incredibly excited about this class. I find this novel devastating. All that beauty and terror in such razor-thin prose. Yesterday I read the part where Lieutenant Henry gets wounded by a mortar shell and braves the ambulance ride to the field hospital, and I had to go down for a two-hour nap afterwards. It just knocked me out. Hopefully it will not have the same effect on my students.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I just finished rereading Geraldine Brooks's novel, March, which I'm teaching to seniors this fall. I struggled at first on this rereading, wondering if my students would find it interesting. The jury will be out on this one until about October; nonetheless, I am excited about some of the teaching possibilities that the novel presents. Brooks focuses on the absent father in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and imagines his journey south to serve as a chaplain to Union troops during the Civil War. March, who is an idealist and a man of "moral certainties," struggles to reconcile his beliefs with the complex world that is presented to him in war-torn Virginia. One thing I love about the book is that March has casual encounters and experiences with several historical figures, many of them writers. He lives alongside Emerson and Thoreau in Concord, Mass., aids John Brown well before the Harper's Ferry raid, and goes to a luncheon in honor of Nathaniel Hawthorne. He teaches Phyllis Wheatley and Frederick Douglass to former slaves during his time in the South. I think/hope I can weave all of these folks in while we're reading the novel as a way of introducing my students to more 19th century lit. Plus, I noticed that Brooks borrowed Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches for her own depictions and modeled one of her characters off of Harriet Jacobs. Lots to work with here; I could conceivably spend the whole semester playing off this one novel. Above all, I most excited about the fact that Marmee and March are utterly human and therefore completely frustrating characters. Their decisions, omissions, and reactions with regard to each other should spark some serious Harkness discussions:)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

At Princeton. Taking a break from reading...

These are photos from my two weeks at the Klingenstein Summer Institute. Some of my new colleagues (Mahasin and Rika featured above) and I spent a lazy afternoon on Princeton University's campus, which is absolutely stunning. My photos do not do it justice, but I tried to capture the variety of architecture and art that we encountered on our stroll. The shopping and eating alone are enough reason to spend four years in this town; plus, I hear the academics are pretty good, too.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shadow of the Wind

Am not digging this book - have read 70 pages and am bored stiff by the narrator. Can't seem to invest myself in the storyline, although people have sworn by it. Maybe I am not in the right frame of mind for a gothic novel. Last night I started Evensong by Southern novelist Gail Godwin and already I am relieved by the switch up. Think I might actually finish this one...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

wish I hadn't read...

The Double-Bind by Chris Bohjalian. Just spent two days on this book for a book club, and now I am in a serious funk. I can see why it is a bestseller: it's a psychological thriller, so once you start you kind of have to keep turning the page to find out how it ends. But to what end? Only low-grade nausea for me, and I really don't have time for that on my summer break. Ugh. I really detested this book. It is about a college student who is attacked while riding her bike one day and who ultimately loses her mind as a result of this trauma. If I had known this beforehand I would never have read it, but they don't give those kind of fun details on the back cover!

So now I am on to Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I never heard of anyone who didn't love this book (it is a book about books, after all) so it has to be a safe bet.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ah, summer

I'm officially out from under the piles of exams, final essays on Wide Sargasso Sea, poetry projects, and tennis balls. School is out and life is good. I have not yet charted my summer reading plans (could there be a round #2 of Moby Dick in my future?) and am open to suggestions. I spent a luxurious and long-overdue hour in the bookstore today just soaking in all the possibilities. I came away with only two titles: The Double-Bind by Chris Bohjalian for my book club read, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I would not yet recommend the latter to anyone over 18 as I am reading it for a school project. My students are apparently crazy about it. I have some rereading to do, this I know (March, A Farewell to Arms, and A Prayer for Owen Meany). A fellow bookie recently suggested a new memoir called Trail of Crumbs which sounded good - author's name escapes me. The other one that caught my eye today in the bookstore was Salman Rushdie's new novel with something Florence as the title. Looks awesome. Yes, my vocab shrinks in June. Anyway, let me know if you've read it or can suggest something even better. I'm all ears.

P.S. - I loved The Glass Castle. Such a great American Dream memoir. I just had to be in the right frame of mind to read it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

NY Times Article on The Blogging Life

Clearly I do not have this problem: "In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop."

Saturday, March 22, 2008


My reader's block has mercifully lifted. Unable to finish anything of substance for the last month or so, I was really starting to feel agitated. A stab at Richard Russo's Straight Man did not do the trick; although wickedly funny it also contained too many wickedly depressing characters. Not my cup of tea after all. Thankfully I misplaced my copy of it before feeling any more self-imposed pressure to finish it. Hope it doesn't turn up any time soon.

This past week I brought The Glass Castle with me to the beach (mistake) and then made a terrible impulse buy at the Charlotte airport: Jodi Piccoult's new Change of Heart (even bigger mistake). For those of you who haven't read either of these, the first opens with the true story of a New York woman on her way to a party who happens to pass by her homeless mother sifting through garbage on the side of the street. The latter opens with four men in prison, one dying of AIDS and another waiting out his death sentence.

Thankfully two dear, smart people saved me from these books by recommending Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. My breakthrough came with the biography of Austen. It is simply wonderful. Written in a way that appeals to both scholarly and popular audiences, it chronicles the little we know of Jane Austen's life and the roles that reading and writing, dancing, traveling, and family must have played in her life. Although I loved all the biographical stuff, I particularly enjoyed Tomalin's analysis of Austen's works. Here is a snippet of her take on Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice:
"Mrs. Bennet dominates the book from its opening sentence. We read it as a piece of resounding irony -- "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife" -- whereas in fact it is something like a choral statement of the view she shares with every mother in the neighborhood. As the book proceeds, we see Mrs. Bennet proved right more than once. The single men do line up, wanting wives. Her silly predictions about Bingley marrying one of her daughters are justified. Her maddening manoeuvres to leave Jane alone with her admirer are indeed necessary to bring him to the point. Her restored faith that Lydia and Wickham will turn out very well is wonderfully brought to pass. Indeed, her belief that it is better to have ten thousand a year than five, better five thousand than one, and better something than nothing, is also well founded..." (165).

And here she sheds light on Lizzy's reaction to Lydia and Wickham:
"Wickham's prize is a particularly interesting one. Lydia, presented as a bad girl, spoilt by her mother, who sees her as a surrogate self, is selfish and stupid; but her outrageous energies propel her into getting what Elizabeth also wanted - i.e., Wickham - and Austen shows that Lizzy cannot quite forgive Lydia's success. It is not only her superior morality at work, you feel, but a touch of envy that makes her so prim and bad-tempered with Lydia, whose careless vivacity and amorality have allowed her to bag the desirable Wickham. Lydia is the id to Lizzy's ego..."(166).

I had never before considered Lizzy as envious of Lydia, only embarrassed by her. But of course this is a highly plausible reading.

Wonderful book! Highly recommend to anyone who feels the least little bit of affection for Austen. Looking forward to Kingsolver next.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Obama=Daniel Day-Lewis. So true.

Here is a snippet of George Clooney's recent interview in the NY Times Magazine. The newspaper is about all I'm reading at the moment, sad to say, but this was a wonderful find:

Q: Why don’t you run for elected office?
A: That would be a terrible idea. I would be the worst candidate. I’m supporting Barack Obama, and I don’t even think it’s a good idea for me to stump for him. They can pull out some old video of me saying something crazy, and then it suddenly becomes about defending something that I’ve said that has nothing to do with the campaign. I think Huckabee has been incredibly effective, but the least smart thing I’ve seen him do is stand there with Chuck Norris. It’s like, What — can’t you get your own fans? I’ve met Hillary several times, and I like her very much. I think the problem is sort of like this: I’m having a good year with ‘‘Michael Clayton,’’ but this is Daniel Day-Lewis’s year. He’s the actor that all actors are jealous of. I don’t have any understanding of that kind of acting. For me, it’s like a foreign object. And that’s Hillary and Obama.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More American Dreams through Gatsby

I thought I would post this article on The Great Gatsby here in case anyone missed it in the Times this weekend. It is always wonderful to hear that the novel is alive and well in the classroom.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

this and that

First of all, what is up with all these Elizabeth Gilbert bashers? According the latest press, readers find her "self-centered" - this after buying her book by the droves for the last eight months. The other night I was completely outnumbered at my bookclub discussion where someone argued that any redeeming moments in Eat, Pray, Love were likely pure fiction on her part. ?

Maybe the idea of someone finding pure joy in Italy, India, and Bali is just too much for some people. I would suggest, as Gilbert does in her book, that anyone who reacts that strongly to Gilbert's personal journey reflect on his or her own Puritan anxieties. Isn't that what Gilbert is trying to escape in the first place? Kudos to her. Secondly, a memoir is what it is. Personal. I'm wondering if people are reacting to her or reacting to the genre.

Okay. Whew. Now that I have that out of my system, I can say that I am smack in the middle of a page-turner right now: Three Cups of Tea. This is the story of a former mountain climber, Greg Mortensen, who finds a way to build schools in rural Pakistan after failing to scale K2. If you are fending off the winter blues or are in need of a diversion on President's Day, go buy this book and start reading it. Good stuff.

Friday, February 8, 2008

All the Pretty Horses

It just doesn't get much better than this. Listen to the Faulkner in McCarthy's opening par:

"The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door. He took off his hat and came slowly forward. The floorboards creaked under his boots. In his black suit he stood in the dark glass where the lilies leaned so palely from their waisted cutglass vase. Along the cold hallway behind him hung the portraits of forebears only dimly known to him all framed in glass and dimly lit above the narrow wainscotting. He looked down in at the guttered candlestub. He pressed his thumbprint in the warm wax pooled on the oak veneer. Lastly he looked at the face so caved and drawn among the folds of funeral cloth, the yellowed moustache, the eyelids paper thin. That was not sleeping. That was not sleeping."

This guy is the master of the prepositional phrase, and I mean that as a high compliment. I read this to my students yesterday and asked them to write the rest of the story. They came up with such imaginative plots. According to one student, the dead person in above passage also has a solid gold arm.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Saw No Country for Old Men this weekend and it has made me want to read every single Cormac McCarthy novel in one sitting. I'll confess that I haven't read the first one yet, but I'm ready to go now. Admittedly I watched most of the movie with my sweater pulled up over my eyes - couldn't bear seeing the violence. But I'm sure I'll have a lot less trouble reading about it. I thought the movie was brilliant. Which one should I start with?

In other news, and not that surprisingly, Toni Morrison and I are on the same page about two very important things: Obama and the Kindle. Just read this interesting blog about both on Papercuts.

Also, I found this questionnaire on another blog and felt like answering it. I'm not certain about the whole mischievious fairy bit, but I'll go along with it for kicks (see below):

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
Um, The Joy Luck Club? And it was wonderful! I am sure there are others...anything by John Updike. Although I did just read a great short story in the New Yorker by him. I'm about to turn the page on that one, I think.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be? I'd be up for that cruise. I don't know about the characters. I'm much more interested in authors. Thomas Wolfe, Virginia Woolf, and Tom Wolfe. They would probably be better for tea.

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave? Ulysses.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?
Emma by Jane Austen.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book? nope

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP) Interpreter of Maladies or The Namesake or Bel Canto or Midnight's Children. Depends on the person. Does such a job exist? If so, can I have it? Wait! Definitely The Kite Runner. Everyone needs to read this because it is beautiful, heartbreaking, and real. Right now real.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with? Spanish

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
Moby Dick

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)? How much I love book reviews

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free. Lots of light, lots and lots of books, signed or unsigned - doesn't matter. And an orange cat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Kindle: a new frontier

Have you heard of Amazon's new electronic reader? I had not until yesterday, when my school's librarian showed me her new purchase. The Kindle allows you to carry around 200+ books at time without any of the weight. Easy to download and cheap to purchase, electronic books may be the new wave of the future. After holding this Kindle device for all of about 30 seconds I found myself utterly coveting it. What might such a tool mean for me? Could I feasibly read five different books at once, wherever I felt like reading them? The prospect was pretty tantalizing, but the pricetag is steep: $399 at the moment. Here is a link to a recent review in the NY Times on its advent.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the new me

Not really that new, actually. Just improved. I am finally reaping the benefits of the iPod, which I know is way overdue. When I was in NYC, I figured out how to dowload a bunch of podcasts from NPR's Poetry Off the Shelf. I did a mini-dance in my car when I plugged it in and out spouted the voice of someone reading and analyzing Frost poems. I can't remember her name, but it was exhilarating to agree and disagree with her while driving to Home Depot on Saturday. You, too, can listen to the magic of the main host, Curtis Fox, reading poems and talking to poets about their work. I just heard him call up Dean Young because he had absolutely no idea what one of his poems meant. My kind of approach.

Wish I had something else exciting to report. I reread and fell in love all over again with John Knowles's A Separate Peace this past weekend. My students were not as excited as I was about the novel, but hopefully they are coming around to it. I am also happy to report that I am reading and really enjoying The Joy Luck Club, which I am teaching in a few weeks. There is time for a few short stories in the meantime. Any favorites out there? Teachable to ninth graders? Would love some suggestions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

the minor accomplishments

Definitely feeling bad about the fact that I did not read a single paragraph of The Joy Luck Club (or any other book) while in New York. I didn't watch any tv either. So what was I doing besides chaperoning 24/7? On the eve of our departure, I am going to create a list of minor personal accomplishments to make myself feel better. Pure exhaustion is going to prevent me from making any truly startling discoveries here:

1) Saw 27 Dresses (twice)

2) Embraced the E and F trains, something I never did when I actually lived here

3) Walked in Central Park on two sunny days

4) Spent five hours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art one day

5) Made time for the one play I really really wanted to see - review above

6) Tried Hot & Sour Soup (were those squid in the soup???? Never mind, don't want to know)

7) Discovered the best cold remedy ever: ginger, green apple juice, lemon, honey, cayenne served up hot hot hot

8) Spent MLK day doing community service at St. Bart's, the church I walked by every single weekday when I lived in New York. It was time.

9) Figured out why everyone loves Brooklyn so much

10) Walked just shy of a million city blocks.

Needless to say, I am a little tired, but in a good way. Time to pack and head home! I miss my books and my classroom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

nyc update

A day in my chaperoning life:

7:00 a.m.: Rise and Shine. This may sound like a glamorous hour to awake, but it is, in fact, not. Stay tuned.

7:15 a.m.: Coffee coffee coffee. Start checking on interns to make sure they are getting out the door and know the plan for the day.

10:00-12:00: Map out the day. Check in with interns who aren't feeling well (2 at any given time). Discover that I have almost run out of clothes.

12:30 p.m.: First office visit at important non-profit agency. Make fool of self by trying to push my way through a glass reception door that can only be opened on the inside by the receptionist. She did not find this funny. Visited intern who is doing fabulous work. Tried to speak with her supervisor, but supervisor was asleep in her office. Maybe next time.

1:15: Grabbed a quick sandwich at Pret A Manger, where I was amazed at how fast people were eating and talking. I too behaved this way for a time. I hope I don't still.

1:15-2:00 p.m.: Walked 20-30 blocks uptown while on cell phone trying to help another intern locate work materials that she accidentally left in cab. She solved the problem at 1:50 p.m., at which time I popped into a matinee of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming. I'll never get to teach this one, but wouldn't it be something if I could. If you do teach it, write in and brag. The play was amazing.

5:00-7:30 p.m.: Check in with all interns and help them find food.

8:00 p.m.: Find food! Not a hard task in New York.

9:00-11:00 p.m.: Check in on interns, listen to stories about their day, remind them about important events tomorrow, attempt to pry them from cell phones.

11:45 p.m.: Lights out, finally. And this is why 7:00 a.m. hurts!

Notice there is no time to read. But the play today made up for it all. It was, as the NY Times review said, really that good. click here for Ben Brantley's review of The Homecoming.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Room with a View

Writing in from nyc where I'm spending the next three weeks chaperoning students who are interning up here. I seriously think I have the best room in the house! This never happens to me. I love my view. And I love my job. Planning on getting some good reading done while here, although sadly I had to leave most of my books behind at the 11th hour. Ran out of room in the suitcase. No matter, I can think of a few bookstores to visit...

I did finish Elizabeth Berg's The Art of Mending over the weekend, and I am giving it a B/B-. If anyone else has read E Berg and has some thoughts on her writing, I would love to hear them. I really, really wanted to like this book; I did like the ending. Just felt there were too many loose seams throughout.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hitting the stacks

There it is, looming large and filling up my January before it's really even begun. Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. This is my required reading but I cannot bring myself to read it (yet). It would be great if someone - actually, several people - would write in and tell me that I'm only a coffee table's length away from reading the most astonishing work of fiction ever.

Thanks in advance.