I’m reading this book, 20 Something Essays by 20 Something Writers, because I’m going to teach a creative nonfiction course at JCU this fall. Yeah, not fiction. Just the way the scheduling worked out–they have a new guy, for a year, maybe more, to replace Steve Hayward, and he’s teaching all three Fiction Workshops (I imagine that will be a difficult task, workshopping 45 students. Whoa), and I’m doing the Intro to Creative Nonfiction workshop, which I do have some qualifications for, having taken that MFA course Neal Chandler taught (he’s brilliant, you know that, right), and I’ve had some essays published, but it will be a new course, and a new syllabus, and new books and exercises and all that, so I’m reading this book, and my god, it’s stunning. These writers. . . They are really, really good, and I start to think about how much talent is just blooming out there, and that maybe one of my students might be someone who has this kind of a gift, and I can help them find their voice. . . well, that would be very cool. Also, it gets me back to wanting to write stuff like this. Yeah, I’m inspired. So, here I was, moaning and groaning about not getting to teach fiction, and as often happens, it’s really a gift. It makes me work harder, read more. Think more. Want to write. Want to teach.
Anyway, I want to recommend this book to you. It’s edited by Matt Kellogg and Jillian Quint. There’s an essay by John Fischer that’s beautifully written and informative, about Internet technology and how it’s changing his life–and not in a good way. I’d sum up his thoughts for you, so I could sound smart, but I’ll leave it to him. That’s up to him, and if I don’t tell you anything (except I really love it) then he gets to surprise you, word by word. Also, take note of "You Shall Go Out With Joy and Be Lead Forth With Peace," by Kyle Minor. Wish I had the guts to copy this one for my class and hand it out. (I found this book too late to put it on the required reading. Paula McLain just recommended it to me. She taught this course last year, but isn’t this time. (But that’s her story to tell.) This story, the one by Kyle Minor, well it might be too edgy for my JCU students. Not all of them, but some. The language is a bit "rough" too. I have to be careful. Maybe after I get to know them better. . . Anyway, his essay made the hair on my arms stand up. No joke. That’s a rare thing. If you read it, let me know what you think. Also"Tricycle," by Rachel Kempf is wonderful. Most of the essays are. Just thought I’d mention it.