Monday, June 23, 2008

What I Read on Sunday

Some good reading in the newspapers:

~Suggestions for beach reads in the Washington Post. I thought it was amusing that in the sidebar, mystery writer Janet Evanovich suggested as her choice for a good beach read, “Maybe The Great Gatsby. It has something to do with the time. A lighter, happier time. My second choice would be Nancy Drew, for similar reasons.”

I'm always happy to see The Great Gatsby promoted, though one doesn’t often see it mentioned alongside Nancy Drew (which, yes, I spnet my fair share of summers reading, most memorably while sprawled in a treehouse)...not to mention that I don’t really think of the setting of The Great Gatsby as being “light” or “happy” beyond an illusory way. I mean, isn’t that part of the point of the book??

~Here’s a Washington Post report from the Middlebury College professor/writer Jay Parini, who was asked to teach the kids who trashed Robert Frost’s historic cabin about how and why poetry matters. (Mandatory attendance at the class was part of their “punishment.”) He discussed “Out, Out—,” about a boy who gets his hand cut off by a buzz saw and dies, and, of course, “The Road Not Taken.” As he saidto the kids: “’You are now in deep woods,’ I told them. They seemed confused. ‘If this isn’t a deep wood, I don’t know what is,’ I added. Many of them lit up.”

~I’m looking forward to the late July return of AMC’s fabulous TV show, “Mad Men,” and this article from the New York Times Magazine shows the obsessive brilliance of its creator, Matthew Weiner. He says, “I do not feel any guilt about saying that the show comes from my mind and that I’m a control freak. I love to be surrounded by perfectionists, and part of the problem with perfectionism is that by nature, you’re always failing.” Example: The ashtrays on the set are filled with a variety of different cigarette butts (since it’s the early sixties, all the characters smoke like chimneys)…AND there are lip circles of different lipstick shades on them! We should all aspire to such attention to detail in our work.

~ Finally, the history of the semi-colon here in Slate Magazine, with worries that it may be headed the way of the dinosaur.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.