Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 2

I decided that the second story I brought in to read aloud should be more of a sure bet, so I broke out the Library of America's collected works of James Thurber.  In 1933 he wrote a short autobiography called My Life and Hard Times. From that I selected the Preface and a chapter called "University Days," in which the young Thurber of Ohio State struggles to see plant cells through a microscope in his botany class.   

There were many laughs, so it went well. I'm pleasantly reminded what a subtly great writer Thurber was. I framed our discussion around the relationship between humor and melancholy. They serve to support one another and prevent stories from tipping so far emotionally in one direction that their narrative no longer relates.  Sometimes you have to laugh so that you don't seem trite when you cry.  

Now, whether or not I personally have had an effect on their writing is not something I can safely say just yet, but some of the work I've received from them (I will say more in another post) has been fantastic.  It could honestly hold its own in a Hopkins workshop, which in my mind  just goes to show how great a time high school is to write, particularly for the more mature.  These students are pure personality, more comfortable in what they think than they even know, unencumbered as yet by the weight of that adult social pressure that subliminally flattens the imagination of undergraduates.  The point is, issues of presentation and technique aside, these kids can write.  

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