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  • Southern Literature

    Pat Conroy's mother once told him Southern Literature can be summed up in these words: "On the night the hogs ate Willie, Mama died when she heard what Daddy did to Sister."
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Sonny’s Challenge

Following the lead of my friend, Sonny, I looked at the list of books on 1001 books to read before you die and typed out the titles of the books I have read. I’ve read 101 of them. Ten percent seems pretty low – to finish the list before I die (assuming that I might live to be 85 (a random number between the ages my grandmothers passed), I would have to read 2-ish books a month to complete the list. Frankly, there are only a few “holes” in my reading – the Russians, Borges, and Marquez come readily to mind. Also, I am very low in the 2000s category…I guess I need to catch up.

One small rant about the site: It’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly (not lonely!) And, I thought the list was fiction, but In Cold Blood is on the list, so that open’s up creative non-fiction. By excluding poetry, drama, and non-fiction, even if a person had read all 1001 books, his or her literacy education is still  greatly lacking. Think: Shakespeare, Milton, T. S. Eliot, Spenser, Wilde, Arthur Miller, N. Scott Momaday, Terry Tempest Williams, etc. Too many to list!

There are lots of great books on the list (and some novellas and short stories), and I can tell that I was lucky as a teen to have teachers that required difficult reading. On the other hand, I was a voracious reader, and consumed books like candy. I vividly remember reading The Godfather when I was 13-years-old, and younger still when I read The Three Musketeers. I was lucky that my parents never censored what I read.

Several great books and/or authors were left off the list: Carson McCullers, Willa Cather, Joyce Carol Oates (other than Blonde), Louise Erdrich (or any Native American writers that I remember seeing.) Cold, Sassy Tree; Fall on Your Knees; Cold Mountain; The Good Earth; The Flame Trees of Flika; Season of Migration to the North; Idylls of the King; The Natural; Lancelot; As I Lay Dying; The Shining; The Red Tent; The Education of Little Tree; The Red Badge of Courage; The House on Mango Street; Interpreter of Maladies; The Joy Luck Club.

The books and short stories I have read from the list:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Sky – Mark Haddon

Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer

Atonement – Ian McEwan

The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

The Human Stain – Philip Roth

Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

The Reader – Bernhard Schlink

The Shipping News – Annie Proulx

Jazz – Toni Morrison

The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien

Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe

Beloved – Toni Morrison

The Cider House Rules – John Irving

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

Interview with the Vampire – Anne Rice

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The Godfather – Mario Puzo

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

Everything That Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor (short story collection)

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

The Violent Bear it Away – Flannery O’Connor (short story collection)

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

The Once and Future King – T. H. White

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor

The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Cannery Row – John Steinbeck

For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

Native Son – Richard Wright

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

Out of Africa – Isak Dineson

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett

A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Passage to India – E. M. Forster

Cane – Jean Toomer (excerpt)

The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton

The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Kim – Rudyard Kipling

The Awakening – Kate Chopin

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells

The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells

Dracula – Bram Stoker

The Island of Dr. Moreau – H. G. Wells

“The Yellow Wallpaper” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly – Harriet Beecher Stowe

The House of the Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter – Nathanial Hawthorne

David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

“The Fall of the House of Usher” – Poe

Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

Frankenstein – Mary W. Shelley

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Dafoe

The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyon

Don Quixote – Cervantes

The Thousand and One Nights – Anonymous

Metamorphoses – Ovid

Aesop’s Fables – Aesopus

 What am I reading right now? The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow (very depressing, very beautiful). I began a YA novel by Joshua Lester called Othello.


Job Hunting

Finding a teaching position is hard work, and I’ve been working diligently at it for almost a month. I guess I thought it would be easier to find one since I’m in a graduate program for a “critical need” field. The truth is, you have to know someone to even get an interview, and networking is the best way to do that.  But it’s so hard. I want to be recognized for my hard work, great grades, academic accomplishments, and references from those who have seen me teach. Shouldn’t those count for more than who I know or don’t know?

It will be fine – I know a great position is out there for me…I am just ready for it. It’s time. I believe.

World’s Best Supervising Mentor

Robert Johnson

How did I not know about him before now? Was he our own southern Faust?

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If Firefighters Ran the World

My husband is my hero. Enough said.



A Lesson Before Dying

 I had the good fortune to see the Diane Sawyer interview of Dr. Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University recently diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He delivered his “Last Lecture” in September speaking on how to achieve your childhood dreams. His zest for a fun life, regardless of his cancer, is inspirational.