Wednesday, January 11, 2006

First day of skool

Ahh, it's nice to be back in class again--it'd been a few years. Attended the first meeting of a course I'm taking toward a masters in English out at ol' IPFW last night. Oddly, it's in the exact same room that my last course was in, this cell of a room that I could only barely lie down in across the width of it. No windows, neither. There were about forty desks in their and fifteen of us people.

I forget the title of the class, but it's about this so-called "Creative Non-fiction" genre and of course I was one of the first people the prof turned to when she asked "what is creative non-fiction?" Actually, she'd asked if any of us had read any CNF lately so I half raised my hand because with this teacher it is sometimes impossible to tell whether she's asking a rhetorical question or whether she really expects us to give an answer--so I started out giving a 1/4 arm wave to questions and then moved to just answering them to myself, silently, making no motion at all. "Yes," I would think to myself, in response to a question, but sometimes I would also think "no" or "what did she say?"

But when she asked the class if any of us had read any CNF lately, there was a silence, and then another one, so then I volunteered (Joseph, you'll be proud of this one): "I recently read Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker." I had to stop the silence. I didn't even know if this book qualified as "creative non-fiction," but I decided that it is one of those genres where if you aren't sure whether a work fits in it, the answer is "sure, it fits fine."

To me, then, the prof (whom I like very much, if that hasn't come across yet), says "Great! What is it?" so I start telling her all about the book, which doesn't take too long, because it's not about all that much, and then she stops me and says "no, what is creative non-fiction?"

I wanted to punt. I was a student in my own classroom for this moment. I actually said: "I don't know."

How ridiculous. I laughed it off, and then launched into a brief personal definition of the term. I even made especially sure to use the word "lyrical" when describing it because I love to describe things as "lyrical." She liked it. She said "lyrical!!" as though that was the day's secret word. And then she moved on.

Oh, man. What fun. I have to restrain myself, really, because I could easily become the kind of participator that just doesn't shut up in that class. I don't want the people in there to hate me; I just want them to be jealous of my craft.

I'm a little surprised that we are only expected to finish two pieces of writing--seems kind of light, but the reading load is significant. I don't know when I'm going to do it all. I am now 1 1/2 weeks behind in the New Yorker, and I just got the new Beatles biography from Amazon, and I want to read In Cold Blood, and another teacher just told me she was going to loan me Ian McCewan's Saturday, which always makes me feel obliged to read it. It's such a burden to be recommended books sometimes.


janette said...

So now that the prof has told you what creative non-fiction is, does James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" fall under that genre? :)

Mr. Hill said...

I thought of that exact thing! That might be more in the "Fraudulent Non-Fiction" genre. I'm glad I haven't read that book. It's probably decent, but I'd feel gipped if I'd spent a week on it--especially if I'd watched the Oprah show dedicated to it.

acoolbreeze said...

With all that reading and 29.16% of your day spent sleeping, how do you find enough time to watch lots of TV?

Mr. Hill said...

One word: dedication.