Joy in the wings: Daniel Menaker and Jeff Hobbs to spend time with us at Penn

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Yesterday, on my way to teaching at Penn, I took a small detour to see a Paul Strand exhibit in the Fine Arts building. Then climbed the steps. Took out my phone. And snapped this shot through the window.

Damn, I thought. How lucky am I to be a spring semester adjunct here. This campus. This place. This Creative Writing arm of an English Department USA Today just ranked second in the nation.

Last year, Avery Rome and I joined forces and hosted Michael Sokolove (Drama High) as a special guest. Michael thrilled our students, taught us many things. This year, I'm enormously blessed to be hosting Daniel Menaker, who edited fiction for The New Yorker for 25 years and served as the Executive Editor in Chief of Random House, acquiring books by some of my favorite writers. In his various editorial capacities, Daniel has worked with Alice Munro, Elizabeth Strout, George Saunders, Charles McGrath, William Trevor, Norman Rush, Katha Pollitt, Colum McCann, Amy Bloom, Antonya Nelson, Salman Rushdie—and many others. He has also written a memoir I loved, My Mistake. I wrote about that here—a blog post that initiated an unexpected conversation.

Daniel will be at the Kelly Writers House on February 24, beginning at noon, when he and I will be talking about the vagaries of the publishing industry. The larger community is welcome. At 1:30, my class will join with Lorene Carey's class to talk in private about My Mistake.

After Daniel was in touch regarding my words about his book, Jeff Hobbs, the wholly compassionate and deep-seeing author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, got in touch about this blog post, in which I spoke of how I was incorporating his book into my teaching plan. Jeff, who lives in California, offered to come visit my class as part of a larger east coast tour. When the dates weren't quite working out as we had hoped, a Skype visit was planned instead.

And so my students will have the opportunity to meet two authors whose books and lives inspire. My students—who are teaching me words like "jawn" and authors like Maira Kalman, teaching me narrative photography and the nuance of talk, the pronunciation of complex cloud forms and the Black Scholes equation. We are learning memoir new, and we are learning it together, and I am beyond delighted that the neon lyric of our conversation will be further radicalized by Daniel and Jeff.


Mrs. Misener said...

What a wonderful opportunity! For you and your students!

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