Another Hamline summer residency has ended — or has it really just begun? Yes, faculty and students have scattered back to our homes around the world, but we’re really beginning new chapters in our lives, literally!
I’ve settled down with a basket of new books gleaned from our faculty lectures and workshops, or already are on a required or recommended book list, or that I purchased because I really, really like the author’s work.
I just finished Fran Billingsley’s Big Bad Bunny picture book, and The Folk Keeper, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and was delighted to listen to her lecture. Folk Keeper narrator Corinna underwent a heroic transformation, which had a transforming effect on me, too, the mark of good writing.
Mid-residency (after giving my own lecture: hooray!) I dived into Sharon Creech’s Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, in which Rosie and her beloved grandmother share Italian cooking and romantic secrets. Rosie loves next door neighbor Bailey, a dear friend who’s losing his sight. When Bailey’s momentarily attracted to Janine, the pushy new girl on the block, Rosie turns into a tiger and Granny has to teach her to pull in her claws. Creech weaves a quick, satisfying tale about loyalty, love, jealousy, and how to fix cavatelli.
Next was Kate DiCamillo’s The Tiger Rising, a National Book Award finalist. Kate, a founder of the Hamline MFA program, was our graduation speaker. She was superb. She kindly autographed her book for me, too. In The Tiger Rising, young Rob, bullied by the big boys on the bus, meets Sistine Bailey, a very angry little girl. He also stumbles upon — as strange as it may seem — a tiger in a cage in the woods. Is Rob a reluctant hero?
As the book progresses, Rob “begins to understand that some things, like memories, and heartache, and tigers, can’t be locked up forever.”
Now I’m reading William Alexander’s Goblin Secrets, a National Book Award winner, with Graba, a “grandmotherly type” witch with mechanical birdlike legs, who takes in stray children. One is the protagonist Rownie, who’s determined to go to a Goblins’ play, no matter what. Dum dee dum dum. This one will pull you into another world immediately.
To keep my academic nerves on edge, I’m reading the current issue of The Writer’s Chronicle and its piece on “point of view: how to choose and use it.” This should keep my eyes and my mind busy, when I’m not perusing (once again) Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction.
In the meantime, have a happy summer!