January 27, 2009

he always sat near anne tyler at borders

Why does the death of an author (or actor) make me feel like I have to go read (or watch) something by them?

Adding to my TDL: find a copy of Rabbit, Run.

January 5, 2009


Last book bought:

My last book purchase was actually a stack of books, and when the Amazon box arrived, I tore it open and distributed the books quite haphazardly among the eight shelves of one bookcase, and three shelves of another - much the way the compulsive shoe buyer would hide a new pair of slingbacks in a tattered old shoebox. From that stash, the title I'm on right now: Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. This first read around I'm savoring the tone of the correspondence of the two friends - so intimate, yet so proper. I wish the term "witty banter" hadn't been sarcasticized to death, because this is truly Lowell and Bishop's (albeit unwitting) gift to the reader. Later I hope to attempt some of the poetry of Bishop and Lowell to truly digest and understand what these intimations are all about.

Last book read:

The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason. Prior to reading this, it had been a long time since reading a book felt like watching a movie. I think the last book was Saving Fish from Drowning, which, like The Piano Tuner, is set in Burma. I read a lot of harsh criticisms of TPT, many that said Mason wrote clumsily, like a creative writing major doing his senior project or something. I found the writing lyrical and the story totally enchanting. You knew from the start that the piano tuner would die (seriously, I didn't give anything away by telling you that) but still, when it happened, I was in shock. And give Daniel Mason a break - the man wrote the book while he was a student in medical school, for corn's sake.

Five books that mean a lot to you:

1) Maurice Sendak's Outside Over There is one of my favorite books of all time. It is a poem, a song. It will take you to sea, to sadness, to goblin territory, and home again, and you just may recognize all those places - even as illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

2) A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler. I love three books by Anne Tyler - A Patchwork Planet, Saint Maybe, and Ladder of Years. My favorite, Patchwork, is about a man named Barnaby Gaitlin, a character in whose wrinkled plaid shirt and Corvette Sting Ray I've been sitting since it first occurred to me that popularity and integrity could be mutually exclusive. So, since preschool.

3) I'm gonna cheat with this one and name two books: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman. In 2001 I did a brief stint as a special-education preschool teacher in the area of Honolulu I would later call my home. It was a diverse, highly transient demographic. The preschool assignment was one of the most memorable I've ever had. In my class was a boy, classified on paper as borderline autistic and oppositional defiant. He had difficulty expressing himself and displayed physical aggression toward others. But. When he pulled Brown Bear or Pumpkin out of the book box every morning (and it was inevitably one of the two), he was peaceful. He was absorbed. Happy. And he read.

With Nicholas I got to see, firsthand, the value of whole language literacy instruction. At first I read the book to all eight kids. When he adopted them as his favorites, he would demand they be read to him one-on-one. Soon, he was reading the books to me. "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?" He would imitate my inflection, hold up the pictures for me to see, and even do little lead-ins to the next animal before turning the page. "He's not reading," his mother scoffed one afternoon. "He just memorized the text." I explained to her that his ability to match words to corresponding images was an important gateway skill to reading. And I had her listen to him read Big Pumpkin. If the words were, "Along came a ghost. 'I am bigger than you, and I am stronger, too,' said he. 'Let me try.'" - Nicholas would say, on that page, "A ghost came. I'm big and strong. I will pull out the pumpkin!" Of course to his tired, skeptical, phonics-trained mother, that wasn't reading, either. But as for me - nothing brought me the same kind of joy as hearing Nicholas learn to read with these two books.

3) The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

4) The Underground History of American Education, John Taylor Gatto. Read it in '03, refer to it constantly. An eye-opening read, although one must take JTG with a grain of salt. I hope my teaching reflects some of JTG's most wildly unpopular philosophies of education.

5) The Harry Potter series. I haven't read but the first installment (and that took me a week to choke down) but here's why I think HP is very important.

A book no one will believe you haven't read yet:

The Odyssey.

Tag six people to continue this meme:

Dan, Caryn, ColumbusOH, Vickie, Mama's Dramas, and YOU. Yep, you. I see you! Get blogging!

Site Meter