lit 113 and philip roth

I’ve had the film adaptation of Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus on my Netflix queue and always find it unavailable. Just found it on YouTube to rent for $2.99 and highlights from the film on YouTube for tomorrow nights Lit 113.

kerouac’s original scroll

This Thanksgiving break I’ve finally made my way through Kerouac’s On the Road The Original Scroll. I’ve read excerpts and specific portions to compare to the novel/fiction version but never the entire book. I was most struck at the editor’s note in Book 4 that reveals a dog ate the last few feet of the work.

luis urrea interview

Enjoying 2009 interview with Luis Urrea instead of working. I had fun yesterday following his Facebook “Sunday writing church” discussion thread. Love his thoughts here on writing, storytelling and identity. I need to make time to read The Devil’s Highway.

salinger and esme

Sunday morning and listening to Tom O’Bedlam’s reading of J.D. Salinger’s short story. One of my all time favorite. More and more I’m relying on fiction audiobooks to make it through the day and O’Bedlam’s voice draws me in. I’ve always been struck by young Esme’s thoughts on the fiction and reading she prefers:

“It doesn’t have to be terribly prolific. Just so that it isn’t childish and silly. I prefer stories about squalor. Make it extremely squalid and moving.”

new on the road movie trailer

New trailer came out today for the Walter Salles adaptation of Kerouac’s famous novel. The book that means so much to me from my younger moco days. I’m happy to see the film has an R rating. I’m happy to see the January 2013 opening date for wide release will soon be here.

tonight’s lit 113 class

For tonight’s lit 113 class we’re finishing up discussion of The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. Students informed me last week how older edition lists the book as nonfiction on the back cover and the latest edition labels the book as fiction/literature.

quick note on philip roth retiring

In a 2004 PBS interview Philip Roth mentions how he believes he is “empty” without a novel. He needs the challenge and the work. Says he isn’t very happy or energized without the daily direction.

Now I have to say the news last week that he plans to retire caught me off guard. And not only is he retiring, according to this New Yorker article , he says he doesn’t want to talk about fiction anymore.

Here’s the quote that struck me:

“…I decided that I was finished with fiction,” Roth went on. “I don’t  want to read it, I don’t want to write it, and I don’t even want to talk about  it anymore. I dedicated my life to the novel. I studied them, I taught them, I  wrote them, and I read them. At the exclusion of nearly everything else. It’s  enough!”

He went so far as to state he doesn’t want his letters and notes from his body of work to be studied past his death either.

Now, Roth is a heavyweight of an author. My rereading of Goodbye, Columbus for the current literature course I’m teaching reminds me. So does the rest of his body of work I’ve studied. American Pastoral is a particular favorite. I mean he’s prolific as hell. Winning every award short of the Nobel Prize. So what else is there to prove, right?

Now I have to say I’ve always seen writing as different from publishing. I see them as two different problems. With that said I have to ask: Are we to believe he’ll put away his computer and pen? Are we to believe he will only read? I think of him as I am doggedly drawn back to my notes again and again. The work and energy I draw from working on my own novel. And I have to say, like what I used to believe about Roth, I need the daily work even if it doesn’t take my career anywhere. I’ve long thought on how I would rather be writing than reading. Most folks who call themselves writers I believe feel the same.

I’m left with this: Will a life of writing and toiling at your desk lead to such a negative thought? Will the work lead you away from everyday life? Can you become so depleted from writing at a certain age you can only give it up?