I’m loving Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I assumed I’d enjoy it, as I absolutely loved The Virgin Suicides. Middlesex is different, in that it’s a multi-generational tome. But, it’s lovely and somehow classic and modern at once. The well-educated, self-aware narrator comments on the postmodernist method of narration, but really, it’s done so well that the complexities and oddness of it may very well not at all distract the casual reader.
I find myself still in the middle of Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby, Susan Sontag’s Styles of Radical Will, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. More than halfway through The Faraway Nearby, I think I had simply misplaced it. Styles of Radical Will, however, turned out to be far more scholarly, or less-fun, say, than I’d imagined it would be. I picked up both the Solnit and Sontag books based on seeing the writers referenced in other works, primarily essays by women: specifically, I think, Lelsie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams (which everyone needs to read, by the way). It’s hard to keep track! Animal, Vegetable, Mineral is a Little Free Library score; we have several of them in my neighborhood. I love my neighborhood.
Friday, I presented a paper titled “Amateurs” that outlines the parallels between the disciplines of writing and boxing. It’s primarily a synthesis of scholarship but also includes my own primary research, a splash of memoir. I was on a panel representing The Georgia Carolinas College English Association (GCCEA) at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association conference (SAMLA). SAMLA is always a little bit weird to me, me who feels more comfortable at the smaller state or regional conferences where I know more people. It’s as if, at SAMLA, every person I make eye contact with and would perhaps then introduce myself to then begins speaking in French. Not speaking French nor harboring a fanatical passion for any highly specialized area of research makes me feel inadequate. But only for a moment. I digress.
I’m still working on a group of essays: shopping some around, finishing some up, ignoring long lists of remaining research questions. I’m being tormented by a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel I outlined two summers ago, wondering if it is meant to be a novella, a long short story, or nothing. After receiving a complimentary rejection from Algonquin, which encouraged me to keep sending the manuscript out to other editors, I’m shopping Ash around to more small presses.
Finally, I just realized my first line sounds like a McDonald’s commercial, but I’m not going to edit it. Instead, I’ll let us soak in the colloquial rhythm and decide how depressed to be about that insidious unrealized representation of capitalist America that crept into my prose.