Monday, October 29, 2007

cult of authorship

here are some things:

1) i went to graduate school during most of the second half of the 90s. so i know the author is dead. my students say things like, "we can't read it that way because that's not what shakespeare intended." i usually say: how do you know what shakespeare intended? but in my more honest moments, i say: who cares? and i mean that lovingly. i mean to say what shakespeare intended matter less than what you learn and think yourself.

2) i hate the red sox.

3) nonetheless (re: #1 not #2), i am having this week a little love affair with richard russo (who lives in maine so, for all i know, might be a red sox fan and who, for that matter, grew up in new york -- albeit state, not city -- and so could even be a yankee fan which would be worse though perhaps not tonight). we went to see him read on tuesday night, and i felt about being in the same room with him the same way i feel about seeing neil finn in concert. richard russo, i am here to tell you, is very much alive. and i wanted to touch him and/or cook him dinner as i do all people i am having worship of (okay, really neil finn and richard russo are it, but only because i have very high standards).

i am doing a bad job of making a point here, so i will start a new paragraph and maybe that will help. my points are these:

a) i asked richard russo a question when he took questions. i never do this for a number of reasons, but one, surely, is the author is dead, so who cares what he thinks. but people were mostly not asking questions or not asking good ones, so then i raised my hand and asked a good question -- the best question of the night (though, let us admit that, as much as anything else, i ask questions about books for a living) -- and he blushed and i blushed and he laughed and i laughed and everyone laughed, and i was so nervous and adrenalin-rushy i could barely talk. then i stood in line so he could sign my book.

b) however, richard russo is my colleague. the man reminds me of a college english teacher because (until he won a pulitzer prize) he was one. he reminds me of my exdepartment chair. he reminds me of the people i work with and the people i read and write with. he is not to be worshipped, not because he is dead, but because we just work together, so whatever.

c) holy crap is richard russo a good novelist. and a nice guy.

d) so, to sum up, not someone to idolize because he's just a colleague AND he's an author who should be dead, but still i want to make him soup. there is something to this, but it will have to wait until another day because am i grading papers? no, i am blogging. and is richard russo grading my papers for me while i blog about him? no (though probaby not because he's dead but more likely because at least the third best thing about winning a pulitzer prize must be not having to grade papers anymore).



sageblue said...

so what was the question?

fronesis said...

A) Yes, what was the question?
B) I assume RR has a new novel out?
C) I was singing his praises LONG before he won the Pulitzer.
D) See, this is what I mean: mtg should blog more!

Lilita said...

I am so jealous! No one cool ever comes to Charleston (even Steven Colbert, who is admittedly much less cool than Russo and who is from here, canceled on us this week). All we get are scads and scads of presidential candidates, yadda yadda yadda.

Mita said...

As Barthes would say, the author is dead--the writer, though, is alive and well.

And mtg should post more. Because this post was awesome and funny, and we need more awesome and funny in the world. And less student papers.

I have a pair of red socks. How does that fit in?

Transient Gadfly said...

*sniff* what about me? Am I not at least sometimes humorous? *snivel*

mtg said...

RR does have a new book out. Bridge of Sighs. It's great and interesting and also different from his others and mostly long long long luxurious. A pair of red sox is fine, but thanks for asking to make sure. The Red Sox, in contrast, suck. I observed to RR that his books all feature very strong female characters who are nonetheless trapped somehow in marriages which make them miserable mostly with guys we rather like...then i faltered in this question without quite getting to the question part (did i mention i was very nervous?), and he suggested (intuited?) that i was wondering about the impetus/inspiration for said relationships and his own marriage and wife. the whole thing was very very giggly and cute.

and indeed, fronesis, 'twas you who put me on to RR in the first place, years ago, for which i am forever and truly grateful.

Lilita said...

more mtg!

(and no lack of love for TG implied)

Mita said...

*snarf* I depend on TG for the nerdy dork humor. MTG brings something different to the table (often, food). So despite every other indication (I've never seen either of you naked, except for that brief glimpse of MTG's hoo-has in Mexico) that you two are indeed the exact same individual parading as twain--you, indeed, are not.

Further evidence of this fact is that TG will know that "snarf" is a reference to Thundercats while MTG will not.

Um ... thundercats, ho.