Sunday Special — 2 books worth reading, June 29th 2014

Dear Friends —

I’ve been busy helping a family member with a medical situation. It’s funny how the medical and its attendant woes — pain, waiting, garages, doctors, logistics, pharmacies, — silences a person, makes a person quiet in the face of something that words can’t solve or change. So, I’ve been feeling quiet lately. Which isn’t a bad thing, exactly, but it IS a thing.

While I wait for the stories to come back into my brain, I wanted to send a brief shout out to 2 books that I just finished reading: A Life in Men by Gina Frangello and MFA versus NYC, an anthology of essays and reactions (edited by Chad Harbach) to where we are in the US, publishing-wise.

A Life In Men sounds like it could be a chick-lit romp but it isn’t. It’s Howard’s End meets Thelma and Louise meets The Stranger meets You can’t go Home Again. It’s an important, beautiful novel that takes the novel of education in new places, and marks out new territory for women characters. I don’t want to say too much about it, lest I spoil it, but it’s really worth your time. Give it a try. It is also strangely funny. The writing is gorgeous and deep.

MFA versus NYC  is a different, equally interesting animal. Are MFA’s worthwhile or should an aspiring writer just hoof it to New York and try to get an internship? What gets left OUT of an MFA education? What do agents really think about? Want? Worry about? What IS the history of the famous Iowa workshop program? Is George Saunders really happy being a professor?  I’m not sure these questions get answered directly, but they are certainly explored. I found alot to admire in these essays and responses. As someone who got an MA/PHD first and only later went for an MFA, I found the discussion of creative writing in the university particularly interesting.

I am still digesting the ideas of both books and welcome your comments.

magically yours —


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