in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Beth Kephart Books, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 2,614
Literature, life, reflections on books read and books written. Photography and videologs are integral to the postings.
Statistics for Beth Kephart Books
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 3
It is just like me not to know where I am going until a few hours before my going time. I don't know. It is, perhaps, the way I deal with gnawing nerves.
And so it isn't until just now, this very moment, that I realize that the Books for a Better Life Awards program, for which my humble Handling the Truth
has been nominated, will be taking place at The TimesCenter. I've ambled near this building during many of my trips to New York City. I've never been to an event here, never been near the stage. I don't know how I got so lucky to be included in this special evening, which is honoring Mark Bittman and Richard Pine, featuring Meredith Vieira and Arianna Huffington, and in support of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Southern New York Chapter.
I don't know, but suddenly I'm so glad that I decided to buy a new pink dress and new nude pumps
. Because I'm all over winter. Because that stage is so pretty, so bright. Because, in my own small life, these chances come around so rarely. Because I am going to live the night.
The poem "Wild Geese" may be the most generous poem ever written. I have read it dozens of times. But not until this morning did I search for a recording of the poem—for the image or sound of Mary Oliver reading the words herself. I find this quiet recording stunning.
This is for Kea. She knows why.
(Thank you, Reference Librarian. Thank you, Susan Tekulve.)
For those of you who didn't know me when I was actually younger than I am today—that is my second memoir, Into the Tangle of Friendship, as well as my fourth, Seeing Past Z: Nurturing the Imagination in a Fast-Forward World, nested in with Handling the Truth.
I eagerly anticipate my time with Converse students and the Converse community—not to mention friends, old and new.
I'm not a talented shopper. I'm best off in a don't-think-about-it pair of jeans (just ask my students, who have seen me in nothing but).
But three very exciting things are afoot—the Books for a Better Life Awards program, this coming Monday in New York City (Meredith Vieira! Arianna Huffington, Handling the Truth
!); a series of talks as the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Visiting Writer at Converse College, South Carolina, next Tuesday and Wednesday (Susan Tekulve! my SC friends!); and the Texas Library Association meeting on April 10 and 11 (San Antonio, TX! Chronicle friends!, fellow authors).
And so I had to go to the store.
This is painful for me, people. Painful. Mirrors are not my friend.
But here we go. Bright pink to ward off the winter blues. A little fluff in the skirt to approximate a spring breeze. And a pair of nude pumps because I've never owned a pair before and because everyone who helped me today (when I said I didn't own a pair of nude shoes) looked at me as if they wanted to ask, And are you a woman?
Yes, I am. Thank you very much. And now I own a pair of nude pumps.
We left the house at the 7 AM hour to attend a press check at Epic Litho. Around here, at Fusion Communications, press checks are our Christmas times. They are our Santa Claus. They're what we work for.
The project on the press was a book created to tell the story of the extraordinary "refinery that could" (American Refining Group).
Of the man—Harry Halloran, Jr.—who, in buying the once-endangered plant for a dollar (and the promise of considerable other investments), saved the jobs of employees and strengthened the surrounding community. Of the people who were trusted to lead. Of management's great respect for the environment. Of the town itself that has rallied, in recent years, thanks to committed educational, cultural, and health care visionaries.
I had the pleasure of researching and writing this book. My husband took the exquisite photography and designed the book with his trademark care. The company's leadership and administrative team (including Harry, of course) were there at every turn to help us bring the story to life.
To print and bind this cloth-bound project, we turned to an old friend, Jarred Garber, with whom we have worked for many years. Jarred is the senior account manager at Epic Litho in Phoenixville, PA
. He and has team have delivered—time and again—stellar projects. They are not just knowledgeable and personable; they work with some of the best equipment around, all in a building, by the way, that once housed a roller skating arena. These people know their stuff. They're trusted by clients ranging from Godiva, Ferrari, and Dansko to Bucknell University to Dunwoody Village to the little communications company that also can, Fusion Communications.
When it's press check time, they open their doors and let the eager writer/designer in.
A post, then, to thank Harry Halloran, Jr. and his entire team. A post to thank Jarred and Epic Litho for taking such great care of us.
Life: It gets all tangled up. Those of us who want to write about it have to separate the skeins.
The students of English 135.302 (University of Pennsylvania) are now hard at work on their memoirs, and I cannot wait to read them. While I wait, I look back and honor the work of my former students—excerpted in Handling the Truth
Speaking of former students—Daniel Blas, whose fine memoir was adapted for the Pennsylvania Gazette
last year, will be returning to class today to speak with Trey Popp, one of the Gazette
editors, about the process. If you didn't get a chance to read Dan's work the first time around, here's your chance.
Now from Handling the Truth
Sometimes you can get at [the life questions] obliquely, through structure and white space. Sometimes you do it by rubbing the now against the then. Sometimes we accentuate the terrible discrepancy. Sometimes we are writing toward forgiveness—of ourselves, of others. This is the beauty of memoir. If all your memoir does is deliver story—no sediments, no tidewater, no ambiguity—we have no reason to return. If you cannot embrace the messy tug of yourself, the inescapable contradictions, the ugly and the lovely, then you are not ready yet. If you can’t make room for a reader, then please don’t expect a reader to start making room for you.
Kim, my dark-haired student with the Cleopatra eyes, chose to write her memoir about luckiness, unluckiness, and love. My favorite paragraph:
Jonathan wrote about prayer as hobby, and about religious fanaticism:
Gabe wrote about surviving a heart condition; more than that, though, he wrote to imagine what a son’s illness means to a mother:
Responsibility—to one’s self and to others—was the theme that engaged Stephanie.
No one can or should tell you what to write about. But if you don’t know where the memoir impulse is coming from, if you can’t trace it, can’t defend it, can’t articulate an answer when somebody asks “Why’d you want to write a memoir anyway?”—stop. Hold those memoir horses. Either the mind has been teased for years upon years, or there’s that small thing that won’t be refused, or there’s something else genuine and worthy. But nobody wants to hear that you’re writing memoir because you need some quick cash, or because you think it will make you famous, or because your boyfriend said there’s a movie in this, or because you’re just so mad and it’s about time you get to tell your version.
I wrote of the calculated inwardness of this long winter to a friend earlier today. He understood. I wrote of the defeat of grey, of my fear, during this oppositional season, that I had let friendships lull—that it had become so hard, so cold, so iced over out there that I had finally succumbed.
But it is almost spring.
Today I wished to restore things. Today I wrote to friends with whom the correspondence has stilled. Today I read Michael Ondaatje, trusting. Today I allowed myself an hour of not making something, explaining something, fearing something, wanting something.
These things happened: A beloved neighbor knocked on the door and came in. A former student wrote of her memories of our time together last spring. A dear writer friend wrote to say that she was reading something of mine at an airport, while waiting, no place more private than an airline terminal
. My son wrote to me, gigantically. A note came in—handwritten, red. Another note—electronic ink. A card signed in blue. A thank you. Old friends became unlost friends. I lifted my head and said, Hey.
It's almost spring.
We need each other.
Sorry. I can't resist. I'm going to be sharing these Berlin Wall-inspired songs by sometimes expected, sometimes unexpected classic artists every Monday as we move toward the launch (less than a month away!) of Going Over. This is Elton John singing "Nikita," a song (with a somewhat controversial history) that appeared on his 1985 album Ice on Fire. John says that he did know that Nikita is a man's name in the Russian language, even though the love object depicted here is a beautiful blonde East German border guard.
Yesterday I set off to the local Whole Foods around 5 PM. I'd been sitting most of the day, working, and I wanted the air. Some of the neighbors were out, defying news of the coming storm. Like a summer holiday, I thought, only we all had our winter coats on.
I'd only just turned the corner on my street when a father and a son invited me up to their garage to see a project that has occupied them for the past four years. This something bright and red they've building. This piece of history, restored. "Hey, Sweetheart," they called to me, as I was walking by. "Have a minute?"
I always have a minute for these two men who are, in so many ways, the pillars here. In addition to their day jobs, they keep this place whole—mowing lawns, collecting leaves, fixing cars, plowing snow, unsticking doors that get stuck. I've watched the son grow up. I've watched the father never grow old. "Hey, Sweetheart," they call. "You need a ride, Sweetie?" "Your house weathering the snow?" "Anything you need, you holler."
They are the irreplaceables—this father and son. They are how I know I'm home—that I picked the right corner of this town to raise my son, to grow up and old. "Sweetheart," they say, "let us know what you need." "Sweetheart, we'll be here if you call."
I snapped this photograph on my way back from the store. Still a little pink in the sky, still a little hope that the forecast of another storm will be a weather anchor's lie. But if the snow comes as they say the snow will come, I know where the lights will still burn.
I receive an extraordinary number of books and manuscripts here at my tiny house, and I struggle to keep up. Inevitably I disappoint more people than I make happy. I always feel lousy about that.
But earlier this week, when a PDF of The Picture that Remains
appeared in my in-box, I stopped. I could tell at a glance that this project—a collaboration between the photographer Will Brown and the poet Thomas Devaney—was the product of something genuinely artful, and good. I could see, too, that its publisher, the esteemed The Print Center
(its mission: "to support printmaking and photography as vital contemporary arts and encourage the appreciation of the printed image in all its forms") had cared enormously throughout its making of this glorious object. The typography, the duo-ing, the quiet space, the photographic shine are exquisite singularly and combined.
And then there is the introduction by Vincent Katz, which doesn't just tell the story of this particular adhesion of old photographs and new words, but tells as well the history of artistic collaboration, touching on Manet's and Mallarme's shared conversation about Poe, the cohering spirit of Black Mountain College, and the some-of-this and some-of-that conducted by the poet/critic Edwin Denby and the photographer/filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt. Katz's introduction is an education.
The pages that follow are an education, too—in the old streets of Philadelphia's Queen Village, in the shops that had closed for good, in the cars we presume to be abandoned, in the stories inscribed inside an old hutch, in the clothes that are hung in a window. Brown's photographs fill me with the longing that I experience every time I look at a Walker Evans photograph. They say, simply, This was.
Devaney, who once taught at Penn and now teaches poetry at Haverford College, is well known for his intriguing collaborative endeavors; he has consistently found a way in to seemingly closed things and pulled the shutters back. Here, in The Picture that Remains,
Devaney nests his images in the in-between of what the photographs say and how the mind interpolates. He suggests what was. He fictionalizes for the sake of learning something true.
About that corner hutch, for example, Devaney writes:
A sack of purple potatoes fueling a clock.
Some trickle, some stream in the black
walnuts stain—its current current:
three quarts of hulls, one quart rain water.
Who could not love a project like this? Who would not commend Elizabeth Spungen, the executive director of The Print Center, for encouraging this collaboration, for overseeing the making of the book, and for ensuring that photographs that had been locked away are seen again—and percolated by Devaney's words. Listen to Spungen, who writes this in the end, and you'll be listening to the sound of real art, still in the making:
And so all the pieces have come together, and we have succeeded in bringing these magnificent photographs out of the boxes which safeguarded them for thirty years. It is both ironic and fitting that the images that Brown captured so many years ago prefigured what his pictures would become—a paean to a time and moment long passed.
Copies of the book are available from The Print Center, located at 1614 Latimer Street. They can also be purchased online.
This weekend, St. David's Episcopal Church in Radnor, PA, is celebrating the life of St. David, Patron Saint of Wales, who established the church (a glorious stone building about a mile from my home) three hundreds years ago. Photography, singing vicars, and literature are all part of the fare, and I'm honored to be included.
My own talk is a two-part talk. First up—a Handling the Truth
memoir workshop, in which participants will have a chance to learn about truth and consequences, sentences and ideas. Following a short break, I'll be discussing 19th century Philadelphia, particularly my three Philadelphia books—Flow, Dangerous Neighbors,
and Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent.
There will be workshops here as well—fun exercises designed to get us thinking about our city more than a century ago.
These events are free and open to the public. The photography exhibit runs all day today and tomorrow, and includes an 11:00 AM photography symposium moderated by Tom Petro tomorrow.
My event is being held on Sunday in the Choir Room, Chapel, Lower Level. We'll start at 1:30 and go through 4:00 PM. Stay for both sessions, or come just for one. Teens and adults are both welcome (and, indeed, encouraged).
Oh, I said, earlier today, in the shivery cold. Look! A package from Chronicle Books.
What is it? my husband asked.
Don't know, I said. And then, within minutes, I did—a beautiful note, indeed a gold-seal note, from Junior Library Guild, noting the selection of Going Over
for this great honor.
I had no idea there was a gift beyond the gift of being selected. I was truly stunned.
And then, over at Twitterland, that gorgeous Heather R. of The Flyleaf Review
started sending me sly little winks. What is that girl talking about, I wondered (while I was supposed to be doing my day job)? I clicked and took a look — and — well — wow.What a review of Going Over
that gracious woman wrote. What a review, and, Heather says, this is just a tease, in advance of the Going Over
blog tour. A tease that includes one of the most incredible photographs I've ever seen of lovers at the Berlin Wall.
There's your Ada and your Stefan, Heather said. And yeah. Absolutely. That's them.
(Tears, actual tears, fell.)
Please go on over and check out the link
. I don't want to summarize, I don't want to give you any excuse not to experience The Flyleaf Review
—and those lovers—for yourself.
I'm so lucky out here.
Sarah Morgan gives me the gift this morning of a truly magnificent review of Handling the Truth,
now posted here
on The Internet Review of Books, a site I was having so much fun reading (the reviews here are of the most interesting books) that I almost forgot to finish this post.
But I do wish to finish this post, because I am so very grateful for Sarah's time and for her insights. Her review begins like this, but the whole is well worth the read.
Thank you, Sarah.
There are thousands of books on the subject of writing, and many of those are about memoir. In my mind, only a few stand shoulders above the rest. Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart is one of these and a fine addition to any aspiring memoirist’s reference library.
Kephart describes herself as a dreamer and a writer. She worked her way through the writing school of hard knocks, and now, somewhat surprisingly in her mind because of her informal training, she teaches memoir at The University of Pennsylvania. She is also the author of 16 books, five of them memoirs.
Between client calls and contractor visits, I found this shock of sun.
Some of us badly need rain. Some of us badly need spring. All of us are wondering about the weather.
My plan: to be grateful for small strokes of atmospheric kindness. To capture them, on film.
This morning, putting together my play list for the GOING OVER blog tour (thank you, Lara Starr and Chronicle Books), I found myself transfixed by this video of our own Bruce Springsteen singing Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" to the East Berliners one year before the wall came down.
Look at the faces of that crowd. Look at him. I can't even speak. Watch all the way through, as Springsteen answers an interviewer's questions about the people of Berlin.
Interested in joining the blog tour? Let us know.
Chronicle Books has made Going Over,
the Berlin novel due out on April 1, a priority—and I feel that every day. In their enthusiasm, in their ideas, in their innovations, in their just plain them-ness, they are united; they are engaged. "Reach out anytime," Sally Kim, who leads the marketing effort, said to me last evening, during a call she most certainly did not have to make. I appreciate these things, wholly.
I'll be sharing more about Berlin and the wall and the heartache and the possibilities as the launch countdown begins in earnest. Today I share a Going Over excerpt
—a link made possible by the Chronicle team. This is the book
. This is how my two characters—Ada and Stefan—speak of their separate worlds. This is Berlin, 1983.
Sister Kim believes in authors. Boy, does she ever. She believes in them, supports them, spreads the word to her students, and now her students are gigantic believers and supporters, too.
In April, Little Flower Catholic High School, Sister Kim's home, will be throwing a huge teen festival, featuring 20 area authors. K. M. Walton helped turn the idea into a reality. We authors are pretty pumped. And today the Philadelphia Daily News
is helping to tell the story, with this fantastic article by Dan Geringe
Since I'm cited in the story as one who enthusiastically blogs about these students, I feel a responsibility to prove that this is true. Check this out, the
n. And smile all day.
Sometimes life intervenes. Frankly, life ALWAYS intervenes. Which is to say I simply cannot read as thoroughly, as completely, as everlastingly as I would like to do.
Case in point: The Patron Saint of Ugly
, a forthcoming novel by Marie Manilla, is so rocking, so unusual, so full of 'tude and flair ... but I haven't had the time to finish reading it yet, and I don't wish to rush through. At the same time I want you to know now
about this writer, sooner being better than later, and so my methodology, on this Monday morning, as other pressures press, is to advertise, then to excerpt.
So first, the set up, from the flap copy: Born in Sweetwater, West Virginia, with a mop of flaming red hair and a map of the world rendered in port-wine stains on every surface of her body, Garnet Ferrari is used to being an outcast. With her sharp tongue, she knows how to defend herself against bullies and aggressors, but she finds she is less adept at fending off the pilgrims camped outside her hilltop home, convinced that she is Saint Garnet, healer of skin ailments and maker of miracles. Determined to debunk this "gift" rooted in her past, Garnet reaches back into her family's tangled history, unspooling a tale of love triangles on the shores of the Strait of Messina; a sad, beautiful maiden's gilded-cage childhood in blueblood Virginia; and the angelic, doomed boy Garnet could not protect.
Now an excerpt, to prove my assertion that Marie Manilla writes jangling, animated, original prose, that she ceaselessly surprises, that she is hilarious, that she sings a song to the wild, flame-hued tunes in her head.
Garnet, our storyteller, is addressing the Archbishop:
It's a stormy day in our smudge on the map. I'm impressed you visited, since getting here involves a series of ever-smaller planes—jets, turboprops, hamster-powered Cessnas—topped off with a spiraling drive up to my door. Even you commented on West Virginia's low status, its reputation maligned thanks in part to industrialists, Johnny Carson, and Virginians—our Siamese twins still fuming over that nervy Civil War split.
I can't wait to finish this book. You shouldn't wait to order it. It's due out on June 17th from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Editor: the one and only Lauren Wein.
Congratulations, Marie Manilla.
This morning, an excerpt from Nest. Flight. Sky.
, my memoir newly out from Shebooks. Shebooks feature women writers of both fiction and nonfiction. I chose to write about birds and loss and words. To explore the aftermath of mourning, and the women, over time, who have hunted down wings.
Shebooks are available for $2.99, as e-books. Mine can be purchased here.
Interested reviewers can contact me for a link to Netgalley.
What is it we are waiting for, when we sit and wait for birds? What do we believe they will fly this way to tell us? Why do we need them—these creatures that sleep with one eye open and sleep, sometimes, even in flight? These evolved dinosaurs with their air-sac bones and their toothless bills and their magnetic sensibilities and their panoply of feathers—tail feathers, flight feathers, semiplumes, filoplumes, bristles, down? These songsters, these architects, these visionaries, these clowns?
Some 150 million years ago, birds found a way to fly. One bird—the bar-tailed godwit—flies from Alaska to New England without stopping—eight days of flight. One bird—the albatross—the globe. Some birds—warblers, flycatchers, hummingbirds—travel at night. In the ache of loss, in the ache of yearning, in the suspense of waiting, what is the science of whoosh?
... and I write of our adventure here, with thanks, as ever, to Kevin Ferris. The story begins like this, below, and introduces a restaurant of unexpected delicious-ness (La Fia Bakery + Market + Bistro, created by Brian Sikora). The full story is here.
We were refugees—two of among hundreds of thousands in the sudden snap of cold and dark. We had listened to the savaging of trees, the terrible torque and release of high-up limbs We had feared for our rooftops, our abandoned cars, the iced utility lines that hung like glassy staffs between tilting poles. We had succumbed to the dissipation of heat and waited for trains that did not run and there was the sound of sirens further on—trouble that far exceeded ours.
February 5, 2104. The ice storm had come.
Yesterday afternoon, work on a book I've been nurturing in dream margins began. I wasn't sure I'd write again; I never am. I cannot say what three pages of blurry ink might add up to, a year from now. I don't know (I never do) precisely where I'm going.
But I know this: Take away the pressures of publishing, take away the late-night fears, take away the expectations we writers draw around ourselves, those fragile hopes—erase all that and there stands writing itself. The thing that I most like to do, in the afternoon, when the work is done, when it's just me and my horrid handwriting.
We've been to Hoboken a number of times. Walked the entire length along the Hudson. Wandered into the back streets. Found our way to restaurants and sports bars. Hoboken can strike you as nearly ideal, in certain weather, at certain hours of the day. It is, always, happening.
It's also home to The Cake Boss
. Carlo's Bake Shop sits right there, in the center of things, long lines of sweet-seekers at its door. We stood in that line this past Monday morning because it was about time. Bought a few cookies (and, uh, yeah they were good). Took a few shots. Listened as people ordered boxes upon boxes of delicacies. Then we walked back toward the Hudson, through the train station and into Jersey City, where I had this tower of vegetables at Skylark on the Hudson,
a fine diner that, with all its fresh foods and lovely towerings, helped me forget the sugary sins I'd just committed.
Forget all those anxieties about book reviews and sales. This is the real stuff of life.
We did not choose the right season to trade an old, dilapidated kitchen for something brighter. There were delays, heartbreaks, additional expenses—and (given the lack of a kitchen sink) a few too many meals that began and ended with pistachios.
And yet, there was this considerable bright spot throughout the travails—Pour Richard's Coffee Co.,
a new, hand-built mecca not far from home. Pour Richard's offers not just some of the best coffee my Salvadoran (which is to say coffee-experienced) husband has ever had, but a hometown, community-knitting brand of hospitality. You walk in; they know your preference. You sit down, and if you ask, they'll tell you some secrets about coffee.
I'm a tea drinker myself, and oh, does Pour Richard's have some tea (and a wild machine they steep it in). And you can't beat the pastries that arrive each morning, fresh, from a variety of local bakers. Personally, I'm in love with the warm chocolate croissants. I do extra sit-ups as penance.
It took Richard (a dentist by day, a coffee roasting hobbyist for years) many seasons (the story goes) to build this enclave, to hire the coffee experts, to connect with local bakers, to put out the sign. It took hardly any time for locals to settle in. Over the five weeks that we were kitchenless, we watched the crowds grow, the pleasures build. We saw something special happen.
We have a kitchen now (though we are far from done). But we are not going to abandon our friends at Pour Richard's. There's too much good going on over there to dismiss the experience as a passing fancy. And it's fun, in this day and age, to watch an independent, artisanal shop grow a pair (or two) of wings. In my mind's eye, an independent bookstore goes up nearby, then a new, specialty-chef empowered kitchen. In my mind's eye, the artisans reclaim my town. It may sound like a dream, but it is not (to gauge by Pour Richard's) an utter fantasy.
And then we took a break in class (the students heading out to take photographs for an assignment they'll be working on this week). And then, in the quiet room, I checked for messages. And then, there it was, a message from dear Tamra Tuller, who has believed in me and believed in Berlin and believed in Going Over.
We have another star, she said. This one from School Library Journal.
Few could fully understand how relieved I feel, though Tamra surely does.
Thank you, School Library Journal,
for these meaningful words. Thank you for the star.
School Library Journal, starred review
March 1, 2014
Stefan and Ada love each other, but they can only see each other four times a year. That is how often Ada and her grandmother can cross the border into East Berlin to visit the matriarch’s best friend, Stefan’s grandmother. As time passes, Ada obsesses about people who have escaped to freedom, but Stefan worries about those who tried and failed. He spends his days looking through his grandfather’s telescope at the world around him, while Ada spends her nights creating graffiti artwork on her side of the Berlin Wall. While much of this story is focused on the teens and whether they can be together, other characters on both sides of the wall also get their own moments to shine. One of Kephart’s strengths is her ability to immerse readers in 1980s Berlin, a time period that does not receive a lot of attention in most history textbooks. One subplot involves the plight of Turkish immigrants in West Berlin, and Ada becomes involved with trying to save a preschooler in her care from an abusive home. Kephart also uses plenty of sensual language to help readers feel the characters’ aches and pains and to smell the smoke, dill, baked wool, and leather. This is an excellent example of historical fiction focusing on an unusual time period, and the author’s note and selected sources list will be useful for readers who want to learn more about what it was like to live on either side of the Berlin Wall.
View Next 25 Posts
The snow would not defeat me. I've been flying. Through crusty white landscapes and down the slushed streets of the Big Apple
(on Friday). Into the quiet calm of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, where I spoke about memories and memoir after Nicole Duran gave her powerful sermon on turning the other cheek. (That is my father, that is me, that is the Reverend Charles Grant, who extended the invitation and introduced me.) Up to Jersey City, then along the Hudson into Hoboken, to spend an evening and then a morning with our son (he showed us where Eli Manning is rumored to live; he showed us where Justin Timberlake recently collected a crowd (my son among them)).
Then a dash back to my home, so that I could interview two corporate clients and then set off running again—to the train station and into my own city and up through the campus of Penn, toward Kelly Writers House, where Buzz Bissinger, one of three 2014 KWH fellows, gave the best reading of his life before both students and friends who have known him for a very long time. Buzz was powerful. He was honest. He was among those who deeply respect his talent and heart. (There is Buzz, above, with the great Rolling Stone
writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the fabulous famous author/editor Stephen Fried, and myself). After that a meal hosted by Al Filreis (who runs the hugely popular KWH fellows program) and another dash to the station. This time I missed the train, but it didn't matter that much; I had my students' papers with me and plenty to do.
Now I am moments away from heading back down to Penn to greet a classroom full of students whose expectation essays filled me up with joy and wonder. That's what my students—year in and year out—do. I think some angel up there is plucking strings.
In between everything, Serena Agusto-Cox found a book I'd written long ago—my memoir about marriage to a Salvadoran man (Still Love in Strange Places
)—and wrote beautifully of it. Thank you, Serena. Finally, a dear book/life friend wrote to me about Going Over,
that Berlin novel due out in a few weeks. She wrote with words that bolstered me.
My red shoes are at the door. I lace them up. I go running.