I like to teach freshman lit because ISB gets a lot of rural students who aren’t very well educated and don’t like to read. They’ve grown up thinking that literature means dry, irrelevant, unfun stuff, like cod liver oil. Getting to show them some more contemporary stuff — the one we always do the second week is a story called “A Real Doll,” by A.M. Homes, from “The Safety of Objects,” about a boy’s affair with a Barbie doll. It’s very smart, but on the surface, it’s very twisted and sick and riveting and real relevant to people who are 18 and five or six years ago were either playing with dolls or being sadistic to their sisters. To watch these kids realize that reading literary stuff is sometimes hard work, but it’s sometimes worth it and that reading literary stuff can give you things that you can’t get otherwise, to see them wake up to that is extremely cool.
1. No one calls it ISB. It’s not even in Bloomington. It’s in Normal, which you know, seeing as how your dad was a fucking professor over at the U of I while you were growing up. You grew up less than an hour away from the school you teach at and you don’t even know that it’s ISU? Or State?
2. Oh, thank you precious savior of rural kids. We are all stupid hicks who hate books.
That being said, I’ve now hated the man more than a decade. And, in retrospect, it still irks me that a man who’s supposedly so devoted to words can’t accurately represent, with words, where he was teaching.
And it hurts my pride that he thinks his students, of which I could have been one, had I but chosen the other end of University to make my home, are all ignorant hicks.
But maybe instilling a love of reading in folks who otherwise wouldn’t have it is not such a bad goal. So, David Foster Wallace, I forgive you. Let’s move on.
Not together. You stay over there and I’ll stay over here, but you know, on in our separate ways.