The “Pace” of this week has been running around far too frantically and frazzledly (is that a word? Don’t know, but it’s how I feel). So this round-up will serve to show what I’ve been reading for the past 2 weeks! As always, feel free to comment with suggestions for what I should read next!
I finished reading Ann Patchett’s very tricky and artful Commonwealth (see my thoughts upon starting it at the most recent Friday Reading Rainbow ) Some interesting notes: I kept getting mixed up between which children belonged to which family, and my confusion persisted through till the end. I think this is intentional– the families are so intertwined and are really one family at times. Also, I find it fitting that the romantic relationships were either barely visible or were eclipsed by the sibling and parent-child relationships. It’s a hard task to prioritize these thornier non-sexual relationships in order to answer the questions the novel must ask.
And then I delved into Deborah Kennedy’s brand new gut-busting Tornado Weather. It is chillingly true to our time– notes from Trump country, from that “real America” we all wonder about, from working class laundromats, old car, dairy farms, and high schools. It is in some ways the America in which I currently teach, and in some ways not. The story: little Daisy Gonzalez disappears in her wheelchair from her bus stop on a tornado watch afternoon. A multitude of characters in the town gets a voice, an experience, and a view of the damage that’s been happening in their troubled year-2010 lives. I am crossing my fingers that they find hope.
Thanks so much to Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog for this fabulous piece, which my AP Language students enjoyed reading and dissecting: “The Little Girl at the Door”
I’m also enamored of this gorgeously sprawling essay on Fireflies by Ellie Shechet: “Summer in the Heartsick Mountains” I don’t usually engage with writing about climate change– I find it too overwhelming, too big and too speculative to even comprehend. It’s something that I acknowledge as real and present, but have no sense of what to think or do about it. I’m saddened but intrigued by this essay, which feels specific enough to show environmental change in a way that makes sense to my emotions.
Have a great next week of reading, everyone!
Her brow is dry; it yields no salt
No tears fall down her face
She rather jumps up to exalt
The one who took his place.
A little in-class writing as we learned about rhyming forms this week.
A round-up of what I’ve been reading this week. I’m looking hard for hope and resilience right now.Please comment with what I should read next!
My students and I argued over Joan Didion’s classic 1976 essay: “Why I Write”, wondering about the difference between thinking and seeing, between creating and receiving. I love her notes about grammar’s “infinite power” as she says, “Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned.” I feel the same when I teach grammar– it’s an animal we know instinctively but whose power can be unwieldy if we don’t see its crouching movements through the heath.
A story of resilience, imagination, and our changing environment, pursued through a nighttime view of magnificent fireflies Summer in the Heartsick Mountains.
Coming home from school each day means flopping into my magenta armchair with plentiful coffee and a book. Today I grabbed Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett, and read the first 40 pages without stopping. I think this may have been the most flawless opening chapter I have ever read. It’s a party scene– a Christening that becomes soaked in gin and home-made orange juice. There is such delicious chaos in the scene: shifting perspectives between Bert and Fix as they’re both magnetized to Beverly; the need for ice on a hot day and the sense that everything must change; the effects of alcohol on adults (and on children who innocently scoop drinks from dozing adults and down them!); a priest dancing a slow drag with the slightly-less-pretty younger sister of the hostess. Amidst the turns of the narrative, there is a sense of authority from our writer as she very knowingly sets us at this starting point. It somehow feels deliberate and unexplicable at the same time. I’m so excited to slurp up this book over this weekend.
Find a copy of Commonwealth at IndieBound
I’ve been slowly tiptoeing my way through C.D. Wright’s Tremble. Such grace and mystery imbue her poems; I feel I have to read each one three times to approach comprehension.
I also loved her poem “In a Word, a World,” which I will share with students to show them the weirdness and power of words.
The best sentence I’ve read this week, out of context and without commentary.
like the fir trees he trues her
she nears him like the firs
“Floating Trees” in Tremble