Halloween! Hey,…


Hey, munchkins. So, a bit of sad news -- Thought Experiment is going on hiatus, for an indeterminate length of time. I can't really object; I can imagine that novel + baby takes a fair bit of time (especially with such an active baby as Tot)! But I'll miss it. I'm hoping Karen checks in occasionally and lets us know how she's doing. And if she doesn't choose to talk to the world, she'd better write to me. :-)

So, Halloween today; I'm fond of this holiday. It's one of the lowest-stress holidays, with no family or romantic expectations. It's a holiday that invites you to be goofy. I think I'm going to be Grania O'Malley, the pirate queen. Aarghhh! Of course, I can't do an Irish accent to save my life, so I'll actually be a girl in a bunch of skirts, wearing a dagger, and vaguely looking like she might be a pirate or a gypsy. I still have the buckled shoes that Ellie made me the last time I was a pirate (for Bucconeer), but she also loaned me fabulous striped socks -- I could probably find a similar pair if I went on a sock hunt at the mall, but I don't really think I can justify taking a couple of hours of the workday today to do that. I'll just have to manage with black knee-high socks. I'll be a very unfashionable pirate...at least I have gold hoop earrings, though they're a bit small for the purpose.

Hmmm...how else can I signal 'pirate'? I'm not skilled enough to whip up a fake hook or a treasure chest. I suppose I could do an eyepatch, but I'm not sure I want to bother... really, I'm just too lazy to do a good Halloween costume. That's what it comes down to. :-)

The plan for today: run to grocery store fairly soon, followed by a fair bit of work, then make dinner for Paul and Marcia (possibly others), followed by Star Trek and then Kate's Halloween party. Try to only get mildly toasted, as tonight's a school night...

The work for today: start putting my booklist together. That's the main task. In my third year, I'll have to take an exam on 120 books -- 40 criticism, 40 historical novels, 40 contemporary novels. The plus side is that I get to pick the books; the minus side is that I have to please all five members of my committee as to what'll end up on it. So today I'm planning to put together a very preliminary booklist; Paul recommended that I just put down all the literary fiction I've read, all the criticism, etc. That'll take a little while. He'll help me later with refining it a bit -- then I start taking it to the professors for their individual input. When I think I have a solid set, I hold a formal list meeting, with as many of the professors as I can -- that's when the list gets set in stone. Then I read and read and read. That's pretty much all you do in your third year. Fun, huh? :-) At the end of the year (or hopefully earlier; I'm actually aiming for January 2003), I get to sit in a three-hour oral exam with them on the books...and then do a 72-hr take-home written exam. Apparently some people don't sleep during the period, but I plan to. :-)

I got a nasty piece of hate mail this morning, couched in pleasant language, so that it took me a little while to realize just how hateful it was. It wandered all over the place, but among other things spent a while ranting about literary writing, and how he was glad that graduate school hadn't ruined his writing the way it had clearly ruined mine. This was the nicest part of the letter. The rest was frankly disgusting. But that's not the point -- the point is that I'm a little bewildered by all the fear that I do see among writers that classes or workshops or graduate school will ruin their writing. I guess it's possible that too much of any of the above might drown out your individual voice...and that 'too much' is a very subjective term in this respect. But it seems that the cure should be obvious, and not something that's too hard to implement -- take yourself away from it all for a while and just write. Don't show it to anyone; write to please yourself and only yourself. I think this must be tougher than it seems to me -- I feel like I'm missing something in some writers' anxiety...

Anyway, I'm going to get to work. It'll take me a while to type in the titles and authors of all my lit fic. I feel like I ought to do it in some format that'll easily convert to my Visor, so I can always have it with me. That's what David would do, and probably Jed. :-) But in practice, I know that I'd never keep it updated, so it would lose utility very very quickly.

It's raining off and on -- there's a candle burning cheerfully on my desk, and a cup of tea beside me. Indigo Girls playing on the headphones, steady work before me. I am feeling very grateful for my work these days...if this break-up with Kevin had happened while I was still doing temp secretarial drudgework, I think I'd be in much worse shape than I actually am.

11:00. Okay, so I've finished the first stage -- this is where I can use a hand. The critical and contemporary booklists aren't so tricky; I think I can manage those. What's more difficult is the historical booklist -- which really ought to be renamed the canonical booklist. It's supposed to list the canonical fiction that is a) related to your topic, and b) covers a wide historical time period. Basically, these should all be books at least one of my professors will have already read.

So, with that in mind, here are my current topics of interest: Intersection of cultures; confessional narratives; problems in truth-telling; identity formation; sexuality. They may make me narrow that down later, but we'll let it stand for the moment.

Here's the potential booklist I have so far. At the moment, I'm not trying to narrow it down -- these are just all possibilities. What am I missing? What Literary Authors should be on here? It's remarkably difficult to try to remember what books you've read! Help, please? Please note that where an author has written multiple books, I've tried to pick the one most relevant to my topics -- but it's possible that I haven't read another book of theirs that is more relevant; if so, enlighten me!


  • The Mahabharata
  • The Ramayana
  • Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
  • Austen, Jane - Sense and Sensibility
  • Barnes, Djuna - Nightwood
  • Boccacio - The Decameron
  • Bronte, Charlotte - Villette
  • Brown, Charles Brockden - Wieland
  • Cather, Willa - The Professor's House
  • Cervantes - Don Quixote
  • Chateaubriand - Atala / Rene
  • Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde
  • Chesnutt, Charles - The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales
  • Child, Julia Maria - Hobomok
  • Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
  • Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
  • Cooper, James Fenimore - The Pioneers
  • Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
  • Dante
  • Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
  • Douglass, Frederick Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass...
  • Dunbar-Nelson, Alice - The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson
  • Duras, Marguerite - The War
  • Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
  • Emecheta, Buchi - The Slave Girl
  • Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
  • Fielding, Henry
  • Franklin, Benjamin - The Autobiography and Other Writings
  • Forster, E.M. - A Passage to India
  • Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins (ed. Pryse) - Selected Stories
  • Genet, Jean Querelle
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins - The Yellow Wallpaper
  • Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther
  • Guare, John - Six Degrees of Separation
  • Haggard, H. Rider - She, King Solomon's Mines
  • Hall, Radcliffe - The Well of Loneliness
  • Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises
  • Howells, William Dean - A Modern Instance
  • James, Henry - Great Short Works, The Turn of the Screw
  • Jewett, Sarah Orne - The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories
  • Joyce, James - Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses
  • Kafka, Franz - Metamorphosis
  • Kaye, M.M. - The Far Pavilions
  • Kincaid, Jamaica - Lucy
  • Kipling, Rudyard - The Man Who Would be King and Other Stories, Kim
  • Larsen, Nella - An Intimation of Things Distant, Passing
  • Lawrence, D.H. - Sons and Lovers
  • Lessing, Doris - The Golden Notebook
  • Lewis, Wyndham - Tarr
  • Lispector, Clarice - The Hour of the Star
  • Lorde, Audre - Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
  • Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
  • Miller, Henry - Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of Cancer, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
  • Milton
  • Morrison, Toni - The Bluest Eye, Beloved
  • Nabokov, Vladimir - Ada, Lolita
  • Rowson, Susanna - Charlotte Temple and Lucy Temple
  • Scott, Paul - The Jewel in the Crown
  • Seth, Vikram - A Suitable Boy
  • Shakespeare, William - Othello, Romeo and Juliet
  • Spenser, Edmund - The Faerie Queen
  • Stein, Gertrude - Three Lives
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
  • Tolstoy
  • Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
  • Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Winterson, Jeanette - Art & Lies, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
  • Woolf, Virginia - Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando

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