Sunday, April 13, 2014

MFA V. NYC?

The book's title is cute, catchy, and, to an extent, realistic, but also an obvious false binarism that leaves out other 21st-century American novels that have made their own tiny ripple in the literary waters. Neither camp deserves credit for Fight for Your Long Day, and the "knowledge cogs" in charge of both "arenas" publically ignore it for the most part, but we shouldn't expect anything less from the capitalist economy we persist in. We're all desperately clinging to whatever meager market share we've been fortunate enough to commandeer, inherit, luck into, or work our asses off to achieve.

But the anthology includes a roster full of talented, relatively big-name writers, and will probably be fun reading for many. In a bookstore, yesterday, I stumbled upon a lone copy on the corporate shelf, and then sat and read Keith Gessen's "Money" article from 2014. I'd read his first one years ago, and I always think of the n + 1 editor as smart, hardworking, and fortunate, so it was with disbelief that I processed his facts about how he squandered 300K+ in advance money although I'm sure a quick breeze through NYC rental prices would reveal that really isn't so shocking.

In the piece, Gessen gets handed a creative-writing class at a school that sounds like Sarah Lawrence, but could be others, and so he includes some funny details about the workshop life and the students who doubt, sleep, agonize, and scribble there. If I remember correctly, one reason he doubts he'd enjoy or be successful at teaching long-term is that he doesn't see himself as a nice person. He also mentions that it felt unethical to teach where institutions charge such outrageous tuition, something I've felt in the past as well. But it was a good interesting piece of writing, and so, yes, MFA V. NYC may well become another book I read when I should be grading or writing.

Fight for your short grade.











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