And the winners are. . . Tuesday, May 27 2008 

It was not an easy task, judging this short fiction contest, but what a sweet problem to have: so many good stories, so much fantastic writing by young people. Young writers are one of the things that bring hope to the world: the universe of fiction will continue, and continue to be in able hands. For a reader, and a writer, this is a true comfort.

Congratulations, contest winners, and props to all who participated. A special congrats to Eva Colas for “Searching” – wow.

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Second life Wednesday, May 21 2008 

No, not that one – the wonderful world of literature! Seriously, isn’t LitWorld the true equivalent of a parallel universe, where people you know (like Pip, Smilla, Jonathan Harker, Harriet M. Welch, Emma Bovary, Scarlett O’Hara, for godsake Neely O’Hara) (yes, she was a book before she was a movie) all roam, living their continuing, off-the-page lives….And the more of them you know, the richer the associations, the more that world reveals itself to you. A lifetime’s revel.

Now: party game. Who hangs with who (whom?) in LitWorld? I can’t get enough of that Scarlett/Neely brunch – they’d recognize each other in a heartbeat.

Follow my voice Friday, May 9 2008 

Yesterday I went to the funeral home visitation for my friend John Mijatovich, whose work as an artist and teacher will continue, like ripples in the water, though he himself has now gone. That evening I watched the documentary Follow My Voice, that details, among other things, the impact a school environment can have on a student’s well-being and ability to learn.

And as I watched, I thought about what a teacher means to a student, how the best teachers say – with their behavior; with their philosophy; with their substance not only as educators but as human beings – “Follow my voice.” I’ll go on ahead – not a lot, not so far that all I am is a dot on the horizon – but far enough that you’ll have to struggle a bit, work a bit, to keep up: to follow. And that work and struggle will be your education: what you wanted, how you aimed to get there, how knowledge and desire aided you along the path. I did not take you there: you took yourself, but you knew that you had a voice to follow, that you were never alone on the path.

And it is not only as a student that you follow, but as a person. What you learn becomes part of who you are, informs the greater education of the heart. John knew that. The best teachers always do.

Wuthering Heights Thursday, May 1 2008 

God, how I love that book . . . Roger Sutton blogged awhile ago (did I mention this already?) about the Return of the Gothic in YA, and how come it hasn’t? Which prompted me to find my fave goth romance of all time, Wuthering Heights (in an edition prefaced by Daphne Merkin), and get lost on the moors all over again.

I had no worries about the novel “holding up” to my teenage adoration – is Everest too short, now that I’m a grown-up? Nuh-uh. What I did notice this time was how completely, unrepentantly selfish Cathy and Heathcliff were, how obsessed with each other, how rough and bruising their relationship – and how the power was distributed: “Be content,” says deathbed Cathy, “you always followed me.” The later relationship between young Catherine and Hareton Earnshaw (don’t you love those names?!) is much less fraught, more traditionally “romantic.”

Plus, that is one funny book. You have to have a taste for hard humor, I guess, but I laughed out loud in spots. That Hindley, what a card! And “Now, now, idiot, cut it short,” reminded me of Deadwood, my favorite TV show of all time.

What shut my gob was the afterword, all the dreary reviews, etc., that I have blogged about elsewhere and so won’t trouble to rehash, but good lord, people. All these little critics whose names go unremembered except in the context – the shadow – of the giant they dissed.