Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cathy N. Davidson "Strangers on a Train" Academe Online (Magazine of the AAUP)

Cathy N. Davidson's essay "Strangers on a Train" appears in Academe Online (magazine of the American Association of University Professors--AAUP) and recalls a five-hour ride on a train with the dean of her College of Arts and Sciences, who had been the dean of the department when Davidson was first hired.

Amid recollections, Davidson forwards a call to action: "humanities departments [. . .] could and would be central to higher education if we took our role in society and as educators more seriously."

This is a highly topical issue that will affect anyone going through or working in academics.

Check it out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sandra Allen "Plow" Hayden's Ferry Review

Appearing in Hayden's Ferry Review, Sandra Allen's essay "Plow" details with captivating clarity and insight a series of memories and thoughts that occur to the narrator, and patterns the narrator beholds, while listening to the radio, and while reflecting on one of her old teachers, Cecily, who calls to say she's ending her marriage.

Throughout the essay, as the writer reflects on a friend's long-planned suicide, wonderful explorations of narratives occur, as well as the people in the world who seem to live lives worthy of stories.

"I read once about how much, as a species, we rely on patterns. The world is full of too much and without patterns we wouldn't see, say, a leopard face in the fauna, or a bullet, or an oncoming train. People who see more patterns than others we might call spiritual, or schizophrenic, or writers."

The final lines of the essay, in which the writer turns inward and explores, are among some of the best I've read.

Read this essay.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sascha Feinstein "Children of Paradise"

Appearing in Hunger Mountain, Sascha Feinstein's work of creative nonfiction "Children of Paradise" details a childhood viewing of the Marcel Carné-directed movie Children of Paradise. Boredom soon overcomes the writer, and the movie seems intolerable: "I don't know how old one needs to be to embrace metaphor and theme over linear plot, but I couldn't do that at eight, nor did I find ancient footage of amorous desire the least bit enticing."

With honed prose and masterful pacing, the essay made me laugh out loud, as well as nod my head in empathy, as Feinstein goes on to describe other movies viewed at the drive-in and exchanges during the movie with his parents.

A gut-splitting summary of a final movie experience punctuates this wonderful essay.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ian Bassingthwaighte "The Cardboard Dress" TriQuarterly

Ian Bassingthwaighte's story "The Cardboard Dress" appears in TriQuarterly and presents the first-person point of view of Charlie, who goes with his wife Adelle to dinner with another couple, Marcus and Dary. 

Charlie hates Marcus, and though at first he tells us he might be imagining the way Marcus gawks lustfully at Charlie's wife, later Marcus brings up wanting to swap lovers, and Charlie wants murder.

Instead, however, the story progresses with dreamlike momentum until, as Charlie says, "slowly we ruin each other."

Piercing, fervent prose. Check it out at TriQuarterly.



Ash Dogs, a novel