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Showing posts from August, 2013

student debt under the lights

General Electric (CNBC) takes time out from lighting the world to swoop in late and sell advertising off the student-loan bubble. When I watched, I saw race (three white people with white-collar jobs in a report on a black family with significant intergenerational student-loan debt), and I thought that it would be disingenuous not to share that aspect of it with you. The show's anchor, like our President, is the perfectly middling-hued gent Melville waxed utopian about in the middle of Moby Dick, so no doubt, despite the segment's visual rhetoric of a race-to-obligation correlation, we are rowing toward a greater America than ever before. Or, at least increasing our collective debt. . . on your oars, ladies and gents!

the most in over a year

Yesterday evening, I swam 36 lengths, or a half mile, slowly with breaks over 30 minutes. But this was the most swimming I'd done in at least a year, nearly tripling my largest lap number of the summer, and so it makes me certain I'll be swimming a slow mile again soon.

So forget any aforementioned failure. I'm a big success.

In other news, I've seen Mark Edmundson's name popping up in The Chronicle of Higher Education and The New York Times, and I wanted to mention that his memoir Teacher: The One Who Made the Difference was also a book I'd read that led me to write my own version of teaching although my setting, of course, would be the adjunct scene of urban higher education.

Like some of my all-time favorites, Edmundson's memoir was one I chanced upon while browsing in a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I enjoyed his writing about a favorite twelfth-grade instructor, a passionate fellow who dared Mark and his classmates to resist conformity (but soon aft…


In the basement stacks, I chance upon Jillian Weise's The Amputee's Guide to Sex and the first poem I turn to, "The Scar On Her Neck," mentions the year 1909 in its fourth two-line stanza: "Appolinaire was held captive/ in 1909, on suspicions he stole/ the Mona Lisa."

I don't recall F. D. Reeve mentioning this tidbit in his 1909 course, but I'm sure he would have appreciated it.

Anyway, I was down there, at the bottom of Cooper Library where literature is known to dwell, trying to hunt down some of Reeve's writing as well as the Harry Mathews novel he'd recommended to me twenty-two years ago. As it turned out, Clemson doesn't own a copy of The Sinking of Odradek Stadium or the Reeve I was most interested in, his Robert Frost in Russia, but I did find a Reeve edited Great Soviet Short Stories as well as Harry Mathews's far more recent My Life in CIA. It all came full circle when it turned out the only slim volume of Harry Mathews crit…

F. D. Reeve

The spectacular intellectual as polyglot and bricoleur, Professor F. D. Reeve, passed away this summer. He was one of my favorite professors and personalities at Wesleyan University, and in the spring of 1991, I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in his 1909 class. Against the common catalog of course titles such as "classical philosophy," "modern poetry," and "Soviet literature," this was probably the most creative idea for a class I'd ever encountered.

The conceit of the seminar was that everything assigned, and there was too much good stuff to list here, was either written in 1909 or concerned that year or its neighbors, the turn of the century, etc. A main theme of the class was that despite American and French revolutions that had occurred over 100 years previously, the turn of the century was when class boundaries truly began to dissolve and the "Western world" moved into a distinctly more egalitarian period. Of course, Professor Ree…


Another thing I liked about Dan Fante's Point Doom is that the narrator is 44 years old when the action takes place. It made me feel like a bit less of a failure, reading about this other 44-year-old who can barely stay sober and off his mom's couch. (It should be noted that I'm writing this from a soft chair in my mother's living-room area although that isn't my permanent residence.)

Also, I'm almost certain there was a 44-year-old lurking in the shadows of the next novel I read, Dave Newman's excellent Pittsburgh novel, Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children, but I don't think it was Richard, a background character and officemate who I could relate to somewhat in his sensitivity to the meanness of an aggressive student (I should say, thankfully, no student has ever thrust a pen at my head). I also just found this great review of that book that mentioned Fante and his buddy Mark SaFranko in the first paragraph.

My daughter knows I'm 44, and for…