The other day, I went into the fiction section of my local library with one goal: find a short book.
Like most teachers, I am overwhelmed this time of year and don’t leave myself enough time to read. And I have really missed having a story to follow. I’ve been reading student work every day, and I love it. I engage in student texts completely: pulling apart structure, analyzing word choice, parsing out trouble spots. I look forward to reading their work each day, seriously, I do.
And I’ve been reading a lot of articles and blogs about teaching and writing and teaching writing. I eat up those words about words. The Sunday Boston Globe has had some great articles lately; and engaged intellectuals has become a new favorite blog.
Still, despite all this wonderful reading, what I really want is fiction, really good storytelling. I took out a collections of Andre Dubus’ short stories a few weeks ago, and I did read a few, but the book was a week over due and I decided to give up on the great big tome. In fact, when I was driving my daughter over to the library so she could pick out a few things, I vowed not to check out anything. I had so much waiting for my attention already. But then, surrounded by all these wonderful books, I just couldn’t go home empty handed.
I walked into the fiction stacks and ran my eyes along the spines until a thin volume appeared. I pulled it out, read the dust jacket, returned it to the shelf and kept looking. I finally settled on The Devil’s Own Work by Alan Judd. I’ve never heard of the book, or the author, but the subject struck me (an author who may have sold his soul) and the length sold me (115 pages).
I’ve only managed a few pages so far; I’m reading midterm essays and trying to plan Writers’ Workshops that will address the struggles of each writer. But I’m so happy to have the book on my shelf. I think I can make some time this weekend to see how it ends.