Wednesday, October 25, 2023

the last book I ever read (Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie, excerpt six)

from Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie:

She began to fall into her new routine of teaching. She didn’t like the long walk to the building (barricades everywhere, even if you were on foot; if you were driving, forget it), but the students’ generally alert manner (eight were female, four were male) was encouraging. She told them she was happy to be there, because it had gotten her out of having to explain The Waves, a notably complex book by Virginia Woolf. After class, Lauren Li asked where she stood regarding Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, vs. Mrs. Dalloway. (Later, though she had assigned nothing by Raymond Carver, Lauren had asked what she thought about Gordon Lish’s “extreme” editing of Carver’s stories.)

Soon the semester was half over. (Her initial condition for continuing had been that she could add some books she liked and forget about The Executioner’s Song; no one could care what tree the murderer Gary Gilmore would be, and the book was interminable.) This day, when class ended, she’d started down the hall, when Fritz came up behind her. He wanted to know if he could ask her a personal question.

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