I’m lucky that I get to choose the curriculum I teach, and so why wouldn’t I choose the books that have, year after year, continued to blow my mind?
Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams is a heartbreaking and hilarious look at what it means to be a woman – to be a human being, really – trying to survive this world. Without fail, each quarter, when I read the last chapter aloud to my students (it’s only two pages), I end up either laughing or crying hysterically, which, in some ways, is the point of the book: At the end of the day, what’s the difference?
This year I introduced a book to my students that I hadn’t read in over a decade. I took it on a prayer that it would live up to the novel I remembered it being. But I was wrong. It was better. Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods is a book that forces its readers to stare directly into the eyes of a tormented man (and possible killer) and wonder, Are we really any different? It’s a book that plays with narrative (so is Moore’s book, by the way), and it’s a book that suggests that just being born – just being alive – is the problem with life.
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