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Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times

by Basic Books

I thought my first book after I finished my last class would be Mystic River, but halfway through it I got impatient and skipped to the end. Then I went to a library with a list of books I was just dying to read, but none of them were available.

So I went to the trunk of my car and pulled out Bookmark Now, which a writer friend had loaned me just so I could read Michelle Richmond’s essay about MFA student life. I had heard her read the essay on The Writer’s Block and wanted to go over it more slowly. Since then I’ve been reading and re-reading these essays (in between my close analysis of The Collected Essays of K. G. Schneider–an interesting opus, if somewhat uneven at present).

I had intended to blog a reply to Richmond’s essay, but after re-reading her essay twice, I decided that what I really needed to focus on was my major project, my next articles for ALA TechSource, two book proposals, and submitting a few essays for publication; when I get through all that–and I have the MFA firmly in hand–then I can write my heart out. I liked her essay, but had some quarrels with it, and I wonder if what I first wanted to write in response will change once I have that sheepskin hanging on my wall.

However the introduction was made, I am grateful to make the acquaintance of this book. This isn’t really a book about “unreaderly times”; it’s a book that celebrates the opposite–sometimes wickedly; the Dave Eggers parody was wonderful. The couple dozen essays by what are often called “emerging” writers (here they come, swirling forth from their ectoplasm…) are almost all funny and hopeful, with no one piece too long; the collection has just the right balance of quirkiness and thoughtfulness. The editor has a nice little website for the book where you can read more about it–Smokler says the site is “retired,” but give it a look-see anyway.


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