Hello there and Happy June! I know I’ve been more than two-weeks-worth of remiss with my posts, but I’ve got some new ideas and am excited to get started with them. I’m introducing three new types of posts: Connections, Reading ‘Round the Nation, and to-be-titled section on literary awards and prizes (and their winners).
First, Connections: As the appendices to The Wasteland or Ulysses clearly show, literature is full of references and allusions. Authors create their texts in relation to other works around them, so novels, poems and plays etc. are filled with intentional and unintentional references to other writing and other writers. This dense and ever-growing tapestry of connections threads the broad expanse of literature together, bringing disparate works into conversation with one another. The more I read, the richer these connections become for me, which apparently is lucky, because “reference and allusion” are major chopping blocks for the GRE Literature in English Subject Test. Joy.
I’m hopeful the GRE will stick to references as direct as Faulkner titling The Sound and the Fury after that line in Macbeth or John Steinbeck refashioning the Genesis story of Cain and Able into East of Eden. That way, I can pretend I have a fighting chance. For my purposes, however, “connections” mean resonances as well as references: passages whose tones remind me of one another, disparate images which coalesce in the bizarre arena of my headspace, or single lines from one text which seem as if they could have been drawn word for word from another.
I love these connections because they remind me of the role my own mind plays in my reading, and they show me the improvements I’ve made as a reader, how much broader my reading experiences have become. So look out for new “Connections” posts, which will likely come in the form of “I was reading this, which reminded me of this, which reminded me of this…” Thrilling for you, I know. And probably, for the psychoanalytically-minded among you, far too revealing of my mental landscape. Please keep your observations to yourself…I don’t want to be told anything about myself that I don’t already know.
Next new post type, Reading ‘Round the Nation: I’m not exactly sure what form this project will take, but the basic premise is that I’ll read a book a week from a particular state (I’m starting with this moment’s home sweet home: Rhode Island) and write about it. I think I may choose to only write about books by contemporary authors, as that will be the surest way to expose myself to as much new literature as possible. Stay tuned.
And finally: I’m going to start writing more about the world’s myriad literary awards and prizes. There are gazillions of these, even if you’ve only heard of the Pulitzer. All sorts of organizations give out prizes to writers, and I’m going to uncover a lot of prizes and a lot of writers I’ve never heard of before.
That’s the theme of this summer for me: discovering new writers and new writing. Realistically, my theme should probably be “Memorizing the Norton Anthology in preparation for the GRE” but that doesn’t sound like much fun. Especially not for summer. Cramming works much better for me in the fall.
More coming soon, and promptly this time!