This week is the last week of summer, which means it’s the first week before school starts. To that end, I’m reading a giant garbled mess of texts to decide what wonderful, challenging things my students will get to read (and to catch up on the summer reading assignments that I gave them).
Here’s a partial list of the great things I’ve been enjoying:
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anne is a delightful person to spend time with, and I’m finding her advice on writing brilliant, lively, and life-affirming as I work on my own writing. I’ve also gleaned marvelous passages to share with my students as they develop their writing identity.
“”I’m the the person whose job it is to hold the lantern while the kid does the digging. What is the kid digging for? The stuff. Details and clues and images, invention, fresh ideas, an intuitive understanding of people. I tell you, the holder of the lantern doesn’t even know what the kid is digging for half the time– but she knows gold when she sees it.”
My AP students were assigned paired non-fiction texts to read. Each pair deals with a different subject area or field, and *ideally* we’ll discuss all of our non-fiction reading in terms of “writing to learn.” This particular pair was “Medicine and Culture”:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
This has been a slow, simmering read for me, I think because it’s more poetic than novelistic, so I’m dwelling in the language but not moving as much as I need to through the narrative. The story takes place in early 20th-century Montana, and follows three young characters: Evelynne, an eccentric poetess and the heiress to a copper fortune; William Black Kettle, a Cheyenne Indian rodeo rider who dreams of bringing peace to his people; and “the giant” Zion, a figure of violence and loss who rides bulls. I’m interested in the intersections of culture, place, environment, and character.
I was absolutely floored by “Atang: First Altar” by Patrick Rosal.
Sarah Rose Etter strained my sympathy and heartache with beautiful Number Five.