After Reading Always Apprentices

Initial Thoughts:

I thought I’d like this book because I often like texts that come from The Believer. As I started to read, I thought the book was going to stink due to idle banter. There are some not-good conversations in here. When I didn’t connect with a conversation, I skipped ahead to the next one. I ended up reading well over half of the interviews printed in this book.  As someone who thrives when in conversation with others, I jotted down a lot of ideas I have for my own work, texts I want to take a look at, and ideas for teaching.

Three Golden Lines:

  • Lawrence Schiller on choosing a topic for writing about: “First, find a story that has depth and general appeal.”
  • Gary Lutz: “Ideally, as I see things, every sentence should bestow a fresh verbal bounty on the reader. A writer needs to give in every sentence-a writer is someone who is forever bearing gifts.”
  • Victor LaValle “Fear is a powerful motivator in human behavior, for bad and for good.”

Something to remember for an upcoming trip:  Norman Mailer is buried in Provincetown.

To check out as a result of reading:

  • Norman Mailer’s Executioner’s Song. Note the Lawrence Schiller connection.
  • My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist
  • The Complete and Collected Work of V.S. Pritchett
  • Joan Didion’s Blue Nights
  • Bruce Jay Friedman
  • Requiem for a Dream

Always Apprentices Bill Torgerson, The Believer, St. John's University

Something I’ve been thinking about for teaching:

For the fall of 2013, I want to start the class on what we’ll call “Intellectual Browsing.” I’ve been dis-satisfied with the way my requirement that the students include articles from the library databases has often caused student writing to veer off course according to what articles they find. The direction of their writing shifts only because of what they are able to find and not because of what they have decided. The articles that are found drives the paper rather than the students’ interest or curiosity.

I have in mind a new sort of research paper, one called “Intellectual Browsing.” Students can browse journals in the library, books in the library, check out Google or Amazon books, and take a trip to the local bookstore. Then they can “report back” and get some practice or experience using MLA format while also hopefully firing some intellectual curiosity. The book/film project we have been doing can follow this stage of intellectual browsing.

I thought I’d like this book because I often like texts that come from The Believer. As I started to read, I thought it was going to really stink. There are some not-good conversations in here. When I didn’t connect with a conversation, I skipped ahead to the next. This made the book good reading for me. I read over half the interviews in the book. As someone who thrives when in conversation with others, I jotted down a lot of ideas I have for my own work, texts I want to take a look at, and ideas for teaching.

Citation information:

Vendela, Vida, Ross Simonini, and Sheila Heti. Always Apprentices: The Believer Presents Twenty-Two Conversations Between Writers. San Francisco: Believer Books, 2013. Print.

 

Golden Lines From My Students’ Work

Last week when I was reading student blogs, I started collecting lines that jumped out at me so that I could share them with you.  With permission, here are a few bits of the great stuff I get to read:

The subway poles are a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. Sometimes I think that I would rather fall on my behind than grab on to those filthy things. One time, I saw a man take his hand off the pole, sneeze into it and then resume holding the pole. When I saw that, I felt my stomach drop. He probably wasn’t the first person to do this.

-by Tahyna Hernandez

Is there a child today in any part of the world who has not learned of or heard of the gas chambers in Auschwitz or read the diary of Anne Frank? Indeed. But ask any child in American modern society about what the rape of Nanking was and you will find that 99% of the population would be ignorant of such crimes. 

-by Ada Lee

 

My parents blamed the black people in my community for the violence and M——‘s parents blamed the Latinos.

by B.A. writing about strain in a cross cultural friendship

As the documentary went on, I was shocked to see that there was discrimination and segregation between black and white deaf people also. I thought to myself, if deaf people were already discriminated against, why would they further the discrimination, especially when both races shared the deaf commonality? 

by Jenyca St. Surin

Titles are like a person’s physical appearance in that they might not reflect how the person really is but they have the power to draw you in.

-also by Tahyna Hernandez

I’ve resisted offering more context at the moment.  If there are comments, I might say a little more about the sorts of texts these lines come from.