Friday, June 22, 2007

Blue Angel by Francine Prose

I read this book because of how much I admired Francine Prose’s book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. As I began, I was reminded of a favorite novel by Richard Russo, Straight Man. That book was also about an English teacher in a small college in rural Pennsylvania. But as I was drawn, or should I say sucked into Prose’s story, they quickly diverged. I do not mean that in a pejorative sense – I mean I was pulled, dragged, forced to read on and on. I read the first third on Wednesday, and I read the last two-thirds on a plane to DC on Thursday. I literally could not stop reading. Ted, the creative writing teacher, was a LOT like me. His thoughts as he read horrendous stories by wannabe, talent-starved students were right out of my head. His attempts at fairness and balance and moderation in the writing workshop were right out of my classroom. It was spooky, I want to tell you.
But, the similarity ends there. I have always believed that no matter what the circumstances, students are forbidden fruit, off limits, no-way-no-how relationship material. Ted believed the same thing. Until… I kept hoping for a happy ending. I pleaded and begged that Prose would let this turn out well.
Her writing is terrific. The story is sensationally good. The male teacher is dead on accurate. The students are so real, they frightened me.
Prose has written 14 novels. If the other thirteen are this good, I am in for a treat. I will get through them all. Prose is da bomb, and da bomdadier!!
Incidentally, the book mentions a website: At this site, you can select authors from a huge list. HarperCollins makes recommendation of similar authors, and you can set up e-mail alerts for author appearances and new books.
--Chiron, 6/22/07

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