What I’ll Read When I Have Time

So far the Marble Memo keeping is going well, thank you.  I only have a few pages filled, but I think it’ll take me a while to get used to thinking in terms of the notebook.  It took me a while to get used to thinking in terms of a blog.  You know, in days gone by, when I drove around the gas station three times because I forgot which side of the truck the tank was on, or when I slipped playing broomball and concussed myself, I would just think, “Wow, that’s unfortunate.”  But now, I think, “Wow, this’ll make for a great post.”

Eventually, beyond merely listening to people talk or observing something unique, I’ll learn to write down what I see and hear.

In other news, I have some richness in my bookshelf that I’d like to share with you.  As much as I’m dreading graduation because it means the end of college (yes, Dad, I went to the resume-writing workshop today.  And yes, I know what J-O-B spells), I’m also looking forward to reveling in delicious books every evening.  I’ve spent the last four years (well, really the last twenty-two, but the last four especially) amassing piles and piles of books that I haven’t had time to read yet.  Here are the ones I plan to devour first (and yes, I seem to associate books with eating…):

1. The White Forest, by Adam McOmber.  I met him!  I met him!  He was at the Literary Festival, and I had the honor of taking a workshop with him, and of introducing him later when he gave a reading.  I gave a rather creepy introduction, referencing last Spring, when he Google chatted with my fiction writing class.  People laughed, but honestly, it was creepy.  He came up to me afterward to say thank you, which was nice.  And he signed my book, which was awfully nice.  

2. Coop, by Michael Perry.  I swear I’m not deliberately plugging the Lit Fest, but Michael Perry was one of the authors last year.  I also took a workshop with him, but didn’t get a book signed because I was too cheap to pay full price, and opted for Amazon instead.

3. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace.  A friend gave it to me for my birthday, with a nice inscription citing a George W. Bush quote.  Can’t beat that.

4. One the Road, by Jack Kerouac.  Also a birthday present.  Boy, people know me well.

5. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo.  NOT BECAUSE OF THE MOVIE.  I’m way more hipster than that.  No, seriously.  I’ve been meaning to read it for years.

6. Three Cups of Tea, by David Oliver Relin.  Various family members have been telling me about this book for quite some time now.  Also, I met David sophomore year, when he spoke on campus … I am so sorry about all this name dropping, you guys.  But it makes sense, right?  That I’d want to read books written by people I’ve actually had contact with? 

7. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott.  For the zillionth time.  But now I own the Penguin Threads edition, which is just about the prettiest book edition I’ve ever seen.

Rachel Sumpter Penguin Threads Little Women cover

At the Common Cup

I feel like such a “blogger.”  I am sitting in an actual, non-chain coffee shop.  There are mismatched tables, there are vinyl-backed chairs, there are drawings from the local elementary school children on the walls, there are apartments upstairs.  I am drinking fair trade ginger peach green tea.  It’s snowing outside.

I am reading (though not this minute, naturally) Dan Wakefield’s New York in the Fifties.  I want to turn into Dan Wakefield when I graduate.  I want to take a train called the Spirit of St. Louis, or the Pacemaker from the Midwest to New York City.  I want to live in the Village and sup in mystical places called drugstores.  I want to run into Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac in someone’s smoky apartment.  Mostly, I want what those men seemed to have: an assurance, right out of college, that they were in the place they needed to be and doing the work they needed to do.  Oh, for that kind of certainty.

As it is, though, I’m sitting in a vinyl-backed chair in the Common Cup Coffeehouse in Morris, Minnesota.  It is snowing outside, and cold.  And for now, I think this is where I need to be.

“Hearing that plain Midwestern accent, as well as the plain thinking behind it, bolstered my confidence, proving that people from the hinterlands could make it in East Coast literary circles.  It gave me courage to speak to some of my new classmates, jostling down the steps of Hamilton Hall after a lecture.

‘Hey, Van Doren’s great, huh?’ I said.

One of them shrugged, and in a nasal New Yorkese said, ‘I dunno, he’s a little too midwestuhn.’

‘Yeah, that’s it!’ I blurted out.”