Category Archives: Sheepbook

Speedreading

Spring semester is a weird pastiche of off-tempo breaks and too-early exams. As I put together the syllabus for Intro to Poetry Writing, I’m also juggling a dozen poetry calendars, assistantship calendars, various project deadlines, and the fiction Ph.D. exam. My Kindle has become an indispensable tool for keeping up with the stacks and stacks of work I need to read and digest. Much of what I need is available for free through Project Gutenberg, and nearly all of the modern and contemporary work can be had for a nominal price. Although the Kindle is not open access like the Sony e-reader, it’s what I’ve got, and my aging eyes like its non-backlit e-paper.

I’ve built a webpage for GSU’s reading list e-text downloads and hope that I can upload it to the GEA website if someone ever updates it. However, I’ll be putting it up on my personal website for the greater good. This week, I’ve been too sick with the flu to do much more than drool in front of endless cop shows and whine while slugging carrot juice and tea. Next week, though, I hope to have my new, improved website back up and the robinkemp.net domain reoriented thataway. You’ll be able to find all manner of literary goodies there.

Meanwhile, here’s what I’ll be reading and making frantic notes on between now and April 2, with a few smoky links for you to savor:

REQUIRED NOVELS
Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
Ellison, Invisible Man
Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Madame Bovary
García Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Morrison, Beloved
Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Woolf, To the Lighthouse

ELECTIVE NOVELS
Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
Barthelme, The Dead Father
Bellow, Herzog or Seize the Day
Bradley, The Chaneysville Incident
Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Cather, My Ántonia
Chopin, The Awakening
Coetzee, Disgrace
Dickens, Great Expectations
Didion, Play It As It Lays or A Book of Common Prayer
Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Eliot, Middlemarch
Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom! or As I Lay Dying
Ford, The Good Soldier
Forster, A Passage to India or Howard’s End
Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying
García Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
Gordimer, The Late Bourgeois World
Grass, The Tin Drum
Greene, Our Man in Havana
Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Hawkes, The Lime Twig
Heller, Catch-22
Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
James, The Ambassadors
Johnson, Middle Passage
Joyce, Ulysses
Kennedy, Ironweed
Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Lewis, Babbitt
Lowry, Under the Volcano
McCormac, Suttree
McCullers, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
Mann, The Magic Mountain or Death in Venice
Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow
Melville, Moby-Dick
Nabokov, Pale Fire or Lolita
Naipaul, A Bend in the River
O’Connor, Wise Blood
Percy, Second Coming or The Last Gentleman
Proulx, The Shipping News
Proust, Swann’s Way
Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea
Richardson, Pamela
Robinson, Housekeeping
Shelley, Frankenstein
Sterne, Tristram Shandy
Thackeray, Vanity Fair
Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
Updike, Rabbit, Run
Walker, The Color Purple
Warren, All the King’s Men
Waugh, Vile Bodies
West, The Day of the Locust or Miss Lonelyhearts
Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Wright, Native Son

SHORT FICTION
Poe, Hawthorne, Chekov, Jewett, Chopin, Hemingway, O’Connor, Cheever, García Marquez, Baldwin, Carver, D. Barthelme, Paley, Munro

(plus 2 of the following or your own suggestions)

Lorrie Moore, James Alan McPherson, Oates, Wideman, Alice Walker, David Foster Wallace, Singer, Mason, Gautreaux, Bass, Barrett, Lahiri, Trevor, Butler, Beattie, Coover, Mansfield, Ozick, Taylor, Jin, F. Barthelme, Maugham, Welty, J. Salter, Yates, Tobias Wolff

(Plus)

Dubliners; Winesburg, Ohio; The Things They Carried; Love Medicine; Airships; Invisible Cities; The Coast of Chicago; Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 6th ed., long version.

REQUIRED CRITICISM AND THEORY
Aristotle, Poetics
Baxter, Burning Down the House
Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence
Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction
Brooks & Warren, Appendix to 2nd ed. of Understanding Fiction
Dillard, Living by Fiction
Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction
Forster, Aspects of the Novel
Gardner, The Art of Fiction
Howe, Introduction to Literary Modernism (“The Idea of the Modern”)
James, “The Art of Fiction”
O’Connor, Mystery and Manners
Scholes, Fabulation and Metafiction
Schorer, “Technique as Discovery”
Tanner, City of Words: American Fiction 1950-1970
Welty, The Eye of the Story

RECOMMENDED CRITICISM AND THEORY
Auerbach, “Odysseus Scar” in Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
Baxter & Turchi, Bringing the Devil to His Knees
Bellamy, The New Fiction
Frye, Anatomy of Criticism
Gardner, On Moral Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist
Gass, Fiction and the Figures of Life
McCauley, Technique in Fiction
Olson, Silences
Todorov, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to Literary Genre

For my autodidactic followers, and I know who you are, consider this your assignment for the duration. Reading and/or re-reading the above should occupy your time and energy over the next few years, enriching your mind and dissolving any calcified preconceptions you might have accumulated. And that is quite a better use of time than Sheepbook.

Advertisements
Tagged

A year without Facebook

A herd of sheep as metaphor for Facebook users

Baaaaaaah humbug! I'm tired of Sheepbook's data-fleecing!

I’ve given my thousand-plus friends and “friends” fair warning: If they want to find me online in 2011, I won’t be on Facebook.

The combination of creepy face-recognition and geotagging was the final straw in Facebook’s series of ever-more-invasive presumptions. I grew sick and tired of hearing after the fact about new settings to turn off, new terms to opt out of, and new layouts to navigate. No longer do I feel conflicted about leaving the marketing orgy disguised as a virtual non-stop cocktail party. At first, I worried about losing track of what various far-flung friends were doing. Now, I have nothing to lose but acquaintances. I let folks know that I’m out as of 1/1/11. For one solid year, I vow not to update my status or to check into Sheepbook in any way whatsoever. At the end of the year, I promise to write about the experience. If I were not in grad school, where I’m obligated to respond to student e-mails and to tutor online, I’d swear off the entire digiverse and retreat to Walden, but this will have to do for now.

John Allemang’s “Technocurmudgeon: Confessions of a Facebook Heretic” in the Globe and Mail, here also tweaking Twitter, frames the effect nicely:

I don’t need to accumulate friends in quantity, but I want to know what drives my fellow beings. And what I discover in Twitter is the curious disconnect of all this connectedness: People I know as morally obtuse find the meaning of life in a cottage sunset, people I admire as artists can’t stop nattering about their frappuccinos, newbie political organizers I hoped would succeed get so caught up in Twitter self-congratulation that they forget to fight the real election on the streets.

What are we missing in life that makes us settle for these faux-social gatherings? You tell me. Except for the enforced sense of alienation in the workplace that comes from opting out – but boss, I thought you prized non-conformity – a life freed from the social networks’ demands should be a better way to pass the time.

And BBC Radio’s Rory Cellan-Jones did a great series, in which he interviewed EFF founder and WELL denizen John Perry Barlow about the virtues of meatspace versus the online mutton-pen:

Throughout our interview, the man who founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation kept harking back to his life in a small town in Wyoming, where he spent years as a cattle rancher.

Ever since, he told us, he’d been trying to find the same sense of small-town community in cyberspace. The Well, whose members met in “meatspace” as well as online, had been a great experience. He told how, at Well parties, the members of the community emerged blinking into the real world, and discovered the faces behind the words.

John Perry Barlow seemed disappointed by today’s social networks, and in particular the one that has really taken the online experience to the masses. “Facebook is like television, the opposite of what I was looking for,” he grumbled. “It’s the suburbs, not the global village.”

Way back when, say, in the early 1990s, when very few people had Internet access, launching an “app” meant typing ~vi, and the Web was text-only, I dipped briefly into the WELL. Eventually, I found cyberhomes at CREWRT-L and WOM-PO, and those friendships continue today–both in real life and online, if not necessarily via listserv. Today, I also listmom FORMALISTA, which is a closed list precisely because we wish to stay on topic, because we wish to avoid unproductive distractions, because we share a common interest in formal poetry by women and all considerations which the phrase implies.

By contrast, CREWRT-L has always been a heavy-traffic list, our discussions punctuated by news of spouse’s health, grandkid’s arrivals, and birdfeeder’s traffic, and we like it that way. The difference between CREWRT-L and Facebook is that a sense of community actually inheres. We see each other not only at AWP, for example, but also because we’re passing through town. We make allowances for our differences and we genuinely care for one another. We may “toot” a small success, but we don’t continually harp on our magnificence every time we finish a draft.

Facebook was originally conceived as a marketing platform, a tool for manufacturing popularity, and popularity is the fetish of the insecure. It allows one to post commercials about oneself in real time to an adoring circle of dozens. In short, it makes one feel special. Temporarily. Until one needs another hit. The first step, say anonymous addicts everywhere, is to admit one’s powerlessness.

If you want to surrender control, you’d better know to whom you’re capitulating. Some people say, “Privacy is dead.” Let’s assume such is the case (which I don’t actually believe to be true.) Discretion, however, survives.

So what’s your story? Are you sick of trying to keep up with Facebook’s periodic flux in terms? How much online data is too much? Would you like to punch Mark Zuckerberg in his smug little face? Are you ramping down, swearing off, or otherwise reorganizing your “online presence” in 2011? If you could have only e-mail and ONE other online means of communication, what would that be? Have you considered unplugging entirely? Confess your techno-conflicts below.

And if you’re reading this via Facebook, please consider responding on Every Poet Needs a Patio instead.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: