Wednesday, June 21, 2017
That last part is a lie. I bought some white boards last week.
Nonetheless, with July approaching, a small portion of my brain needs to be devoted to thinking about the fall, the beginning of another group of youngins, and all of the work to be done there. By this point in my career, which hasn't been extremely lengthy, I've worked with enough students to know a couple of the early challenges I'll face. Let's go ahead and forecast them. I'm likely to get at least a couple of students who've never struggled with school work and will have a difficult time adjusting to the demands of an honors class. I'll have at least a few students who are determined to make me realize just how much they hate reading. Finally, I'll have more than a few students who will become frustrated with the nature of literature itself: they will get mad when there's not one "right" answer to the discussion questions I pose.
Monday, June 19, 2017
1. "He once went to a psychic to warn her."
2. "No less than 25 Mexican folk songs have been written about his beard."
3. "Sharks have a week dedicated to him."
4. "His business card simply reads, 'I'll call you.'"
Sunday, June 18, 2017
You're probably familiar with Michael Lewis even if you aren't, probably not due to his art history degree or his master's in economics. More likely, he came up on your radar with some of his financial journalism works, but most likely, you would know him as the author who wrote the book The Blind Side, from which the popular movie was adapted. Lewis's other works include other nonfiction books adapted into movies, such as The Big Short and Moneyball. In short, if you're looking for a good film, you need a good story, you need to be checking out whatever Michael Lewis is working on.
Perhaps The Undoing Project could be a future feature film; biopics about mathematicians sometimes do well. Sylvia Nasar's A Beautiful Mind about John Nash was adapted by Ron Howard and won quite a few Academy Awards. Nevertheless, it's late (of course it is; I've been up reading), and I need to get back on topic.
Friday, June 16, 2017
John Green's novels betray something about him that you could also pick up from watching any of his videos: he thinks it's normal that people have a high verbal velocity. It's been since the days of a bygone college relationship that I've had to suffer through such quick dialogue (the offender then was Gilmore Girls). Mr. Green's characters all talk the way he does. They're also all extremely quirky, which makes for an interesting setup. In the books I've read by him, which, granted, haven't been all of his, but enough to establish a good sample size, he seems to plop a protagonist down in the midst of a circus act. Our main character seems weird for not being weird when everyone else onstage is weird.
Nonetheless, I always feel like I'm very critical of John Green, when in fact, I'm probably just jealous of his paychecks. Let's get to some praise.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Ms. Dessen gets unfairly lumped into a category sometimes as being a writer of romance novels, so if that's what you're looking for with this one, you're going to be let down. This book is so much more; it's even more impressive considering its status as a debut. It reads like a seasoned writer wrote it. That Summer is great on two levels: it's fun to read because it's a good story, and it's interesting to read to see how much of the story's details are dated. The book came out in 1996!
For example, nowadays the focus of teenage life doesn't seem to revolve around the mall as much as 20 years ago. A character plays cassette tapes (and not in a pointed way like in Jay Asher's work). A character complains about spending $20 for a child's shoes. Our protagonist uses the word "retarded," which wouldn't happen in a modern book. Other than these, though, the story holds up quite well. Perhaps that's Ms. Dessen's genius, and I'm not using that word lightly.
Authors are supposed to tell us truths disguised as fiction.