Extra Credit

I had the pleasure of speaking to Tim Wendel's fiction workshop class at Johns Hopkins for an hour last night as part of his guest lecturer series. When I was thinking about what to discuss (which basically was my bio as a writer/editor/organizer in the community), I remembered all the great writers and editors and Baltimoreans I've met over the past five years, and I wonder if anything I've done could be replicated in another city, whether it's the special magic of Baltimore's intimate size and generous, quasi-Southern charm. Whatever it is, I feel truly blessed that I know so many talented, hard-working people in the community. Anything is possible in Baltimore, as long as you have dedication and persistence and, most of all, passion. People can spot phonies and resume builders a mile away.

Speaking of the academia, Just finished Denis Johnson's The Name of the World. I thought the writing was wonderful, ruminating, and reflective but that the book as a whole lacked an emotional resonance. A recollection of a professor, Michael Reed's, last semester at a mid-Western college, he finally escapes the bubble he's been trapped in since the death of his wife and daughter four years earlier. His muse comes in the form of a female student, an eccentric redhead named Flower Canon, but his metamorphosis feels plotted and clunky and unfulfilled. I never got the sense of his wife and daughter, and even when he breaks through his emotional paralysis, his memories of them and his longing for them never really spring to life. Without this passion, we're left to wonder the whole validity of the prison he's been living in.

But read it for the character profiles of the other professors—great stuff. Although it seems odd that Reed is never shown teaching classes or interacting with any other students than Flower Canon.

So I just started Tim's new book, High Heat, about the fastball. Just in time for baseball season, eh?