Mrs. M is at her workout, I’m sitting downstairs listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage, and the Spawn is upstairs, sleeping in. That won’t be the case this time next week, however, as that will be the Spawn’s move-in day at Flagship. We’re not absolutely certain which of two adjacent
dorms residence halls (Quote at orientation: “We like to say that [Cross-state rival] has dorms. We have residence halls.”) she’ll be in, but we’re hoping to have that nailed down in the next day or so. We’re trying not to be too clingy at the moment, but the three of us do seem to find our ways into the same room with greater frequency than usual.
I wrote — or more precisely, finished writing — a story this week for an anthology I hope to talk about more in the future. It was a very different story than the ones I usually write, far gentler, for one thing. In any case, I learned this morning that it has been accepted, and I suspect that (as my friend, colleague, and brother-in-noir David Rachels put it) my appearance on this anthology’s roster will make me the cheapest house on the nicest street. A very nice way to start the day.
I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I frequently feel like something of an impostor as a writer (also as a professor and musician, to tell the truth, but since we’re talking about writing here…), and part of that I think is because I’m reinventing myself as a fiction writer after having been an academic for a number of years and a journo for a few as well. More accurately, I suppose I’m rediscovering myself in that regard, as I always wanted to — indeed, couldn’t help but — write. But after I said that, it occurred to me that if a writer is much good, he’s reinventing or rediscovering himself each time he writes something, and I think that’s true even if he’s writing formula fiction. You’re finding voices, or renewing the conversation with old ones, mining parts of yourself or people you’ve known, remembering (as in the opposite of dismembering) people, events, and in a way, every story is a first story, in that it’s the first time I’ve told it with these people in this particular way. I haven’t decided yet if that makes it all less intimidating or more so. But I’m glad I wrote this one, and I’ll let you know when I can share it with you.
I’ll be assembling my syllabi for the new term this week, and one of the courses I’ll be teaching is a new one, a period course in the Restoration and “Long 18th Century.” In practice, that means we’ll be looking at Milton, Dryden, Pope, Swift, and the conjoined twins of Boswell and the Great Cham. I was disappointed to discover that there’s not a decent, affordable edition of Dryden in print, so I guess the kids will have to spend some of the term reading stuff online.
As I said, this is a new course, and the first time I’ve spent an entire term on the period. I’m looking forward to it, though. When I took a course on this period during my doctoral studies, my professor told me that she somewhat regretted that I’m a medievalist, as she thought I had “a fine 18th-Century mind.” I took that as a compliment — I know it was intended as such — and I have to acknowledge that I do feel a certain affinity for these guys. I wear Samuel Johnson T-shirts for a reason, after all. If nothing else, I just hope I can help the kids get most of the jokes after we get past Milton. We shall see.
I’ll bring in a double shot of music today, from opposite ends of the rock spectrum. We’ll start off with the British prog band Spring, a group chiefly notable for two things: They had three guys playing the Mellotron, a precursor to the synthesizer that used tape loops of various orchestral sounds, perhaps most famously providing the flute sounds on the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The Mellotron is a notoriously temperamental beast, and the fact that these guys used (and toured with!) three of them (without multiple homicides) is astonishing. The other noteworthy point is that the drummer was David “Pick” Withers, whose work on the first four Dire Straits albums secured him a spot in the pantheon of great but essentially forgotten drummers. Anyway, this song, from their sole album, is called “Golden Fleece.”
At the opposite end of things, we have the Royale [sic] Coachmen, who may have been from Montreal, or may have been from Brooklyn. This song is what might have happened if Bob Dylan had suffered major head trauma while writing “Positively 4th Street”, and that may be just why I like it. Without further ado, here’s “Killer of Men.”
Enjoy your weekend!