Booker Prize Longlist 2007
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Thursday Morning Coffee Talk, 8.9.07

The critic James Wood is moving from The New Republic to The New Yorker, and many media outlets are making note of the literary switcheroo. Dwight Garner, who writes the New York Times' Paper Cuts blog, links to an interview of Wood at the Kenyon Review. (If you don't have Paper Cuts on your Google Reader or Bloglines, you're missing something good.)

Via Shaken & Stirred, I read the Atlantic's interview of Ann Patchett (Bel Canto) in which Patchett talks about her terrible experience at Clemson University when her memoir Truth & Beauty was chosen as the 2006 freshman group read selection. (Laila Lalami had a much better experience at the University of Tennessee with her short story collection, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits.) Truth & Beauty concerns Patchett's friendship with the late Lucy Grealy, the author of the highly recommended (by me) Autobiography of a Face. Patchett tells the Atlantic's Abigail Cutler,

Hands down, the most upsetting and distressing thing about the entire Clemson experience—more than Wingate, more than anything else—was seeing in action this idea that kids could be so rude to an adult, a guest of the university, on their very first day of school. That just blew my mind. I thought, “What kind of a society are we living in?”

Dave White attended Comic-Con 2007 for MSNBC. Several of his observations made me laugh, including, "Celebrity comic-book authorship is the somewhat-less-embarrassing alternative to writing a children’s book."


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Oh, I read Truth & Beauty -- it was intense, and intensely personal and -- deeply upsetting, in many ways. I wouldn't expect freshman to understand that fully, but as their professor? I would have expected to respond as an adult, even to a book I didn't like. Hello, modeling behavior? Did the guy forget he was a teacher? Quel irritation!!

How are the chickens?

TadMack, Truth & Beauty is an interesting choice for a universal freshman discussion. I'd think it would work better as part of a class where Grealy's Autobiography of a Face was assigned, too. (That's an excellent--and sad--book, also.) But, then again, The Lovely Bones is really popular with 8th graders...

For our town's annual group read, I keep suggesting Danzy Senna's Caucasia, but it ain't happening. This year it's the Wizard of Oz, which actually ought to be fun.

The chicks are great, although they don't seem to like breezes. I love seeing their little faces peeking out of the coop.

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