August 14, 2006

Among the stuff I have finished recently...

A reread of D. G. Meyers's The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880: "Despite Tom Wolfe's call for objective reportage in American fiction, students take it as a betrayal of their metier to be asked to do basic research or to handle abstract ides."

And then Donald Morton and Mas'ud Zavarzadeh's "The Cultural Politics of the Fiction Workshop." Both this one and the Meyers are for the workshop I have to teach in the fall. I found the citation for this article in the McGurl article from months ago. The article is somewhat interesting and dogmatic if by now overdone argument about the narcissism of the writing workshop. It is written in that style that was briefly popular among graduate students in the late 80s and early 90s of inflecting everything with quote marks. So a sentence goes like this: "These assumptions include the idea of the free 'subject,' the integrity of 'experience,' the sharp separation of 'reading' from 'writing,' the individual 'voice,' the 'authority' of the author, uniqueness of 'style,' the obedience of the reader, 'originality,' and 'intuition.'" I keep trying to figure out why the words “reader” and “writer” don’t get the inflection.

Cited in the Mark Nowak book, Meridel Le Sueur’s Worker Wrtiers: A Manuel on Writing Developed by the Author for the Minnesota Works Progress Administation, 1939; with a New Note on Structure and an Afterword by the Author. This is a reprint of an earlier book. There is a wonderful section called “Analysis of a Short Story” where Le Sueur shows “how and why she constructed the story as she did.” So it is in two columns. On the right, the story. On the left, the analysis. From the left: “Also the theme is deepened, the revolt is mentioned.” “Notice how the reader must be prepared for EVERYTHING—nothing must be taken for granted.” etc.

Latest edition of Gary Sullivan's Elsewhere which is a version of my favorite Nada Gordon poem, "Coney Island Avenue."

John Jeavons, How to Grow More Vegetables (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine. It is call about the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method. Which shows up in the text in all CAPS and with a little trademark symbol throughout the book whenever it shows up. GROW BIOINTENSIVE is mainly about the soil.

Mel Bartholomew, Square Foot Gardening. Also about growing vegetables. This one is all about dividing the plot into little squares and then making an elaborate plan. I somewhat love it because it is so rule bound.

Among the books I've not yet finished...

Steven Harris, Surrealist Art and Thought in the 1930s: Art, Politics, and the Psyche.. Really great, detailed study. I abandoned to finish an article. Need to get back to it so I can return to library.

China Mieville Perdido Street Station. Didn't finish on long airplane trip. Not sure I can reenter.

Jack Black, You Can't Win.

Richard Walker, The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California. They're called growers not farmers in California.

Maggie Black, the No-Nonsense Guide to Water.

Howard W. Robertson, Ode to Certain Interstates and Other Poems. What I've read so far is lovely, some associational narrative, barely Poetic in the good sense of barely.

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