Thursday, October 04, 2012

If Rambo were a liberal

Great interview with Lee Child at Playboy. (Tip courtesy of L. who picked up the magazine at her hipster hairdresser's!)

(NB I did think it highly implausible when Lee Child said in a recent interview that Reacher would vote Democrat!)

Teaching Madame Bovary was utterly exhilarating. I am increasingly convinced that every year I should just teach a seminar called "Interesting Books" whose only rationale would be that everything on the syllabus is something I think you can't afford to miss if you love novels! I think the main purpose of my spring-semester leave will be reading a ton of novels for the ABCs of the novel book (especially the classic Chinese and Japanese ones I mostly don't know), but it also should mean that I could roll out a couple new courses next year without it inducing a nervous breakdown.

We decide on curriculum as early as November for the following academic year, which is often tough (what will I feel like teaching in September 2013?!?), but I'm thinking I should repeat an old graduate seminar I only taught once - the Idea of Culture class (I have a new one I want to develop, on eighteenth-century modernities starting with Hamlet/Descartes and moving through Swift, Sterne, etc., but I need to get more work done on the ABCs of the novel project before I teach something that puts all sorts of interesting new ideas in my head!). Maybe do the MA seminar one more time, as it counts as a service course (otherwise I need to teach two lecture courses if I don't want to teach in the Core). An undergraduate seminar on voice in fiction that would include Sebald, Bernhard, Ishiguro, Lydia Davis, Gary Lutz, various others. And - this is the duty I am feeling, but it would also be a pleasure, though a lot of work! - a new lecture course, for undergraduates primarily but graduate students also, on eighteenth-century nonfiction. Perhaps just focused around Boswell and Johnson, as I have never taught Boswell's Life of Johnson and suspect that, rather like Clarissa, it is a book that students probably won't read at all if I'm not teaching it!

Absolutely gripped by Diana Wynne Jones's reflections on writing, which are giving me a huge hunger for some serious time immersed in Sidney and Spenser - that, too, is on the agenda for sabbatical reading. (There's also an early essay that makes me keen to reread LOTR!)

Miscellaneous other light reading: Dani Shapiro's Devotion; Reed Farrel Coleman's Gun Church.


  1. I like the 18th cent. idea v. much -- you are right, some books are too daunting to pick up without a purpose in view; shamefully I still haven't read Clarissa. (But surely Gibbon and Hume could squeak in on the grounds that Johnson knew them?)

  2. Why on earth did you read Devotion, and what did you think of it?

  3. He said in the same interview that the reason for this is that Obama grew up on the mean streets of Chicago, which Reacher would admire, but Obama did not grow up there, which says something maybe about closely Lee Child follows American politics.