I begin my MFA program Wednesday morning in beautiful downtown Manchester, New Hamphire ... after a few days on campus we move to Shutter Island off the coast; an environmental paradise (if you’re a tree hugger). For a guy who needs no more inspiration than a pot of coffee, I am not feeling particularly enamored with the setting.
Couldn’t they book a Marriott and dole out the toilet paper ala Sheryl Crow?
Just in case, I am bringing my own toilet paper ...
I’ll hanging with a group of talented writers (fellow students and staff) and that should offset the lock-up environment. I guess I can view this as a leave of absence from blogging/reviews (since Shutter Island tends to avoid WYFY and I will have very limited Internet access). So, no TK’s until June 26 or so (a week I also have a dental appointment so there’s that extra dose of torture to look forward to as well).
Sleeping won’t come easy for the ugly one; I require at least the sound of an air conditioner (which I use throughout the winter--letting the fan run), a hug pillow (which I’m taking) and a king-sized bed. Oy vey, am I in for it ...
Although I’m 130 pages into a crime novel inspired by the MFA program on Shutter Island (a witness protection novel featuring the return of Jimmy “Bench Press” Mangino), my project during the program is a literary novel I’ve been struggling with (on and off) for four years. I will either be successful with it or go down swinging (“Down goes Stella. Down goes Stella” ... don’t bet on it) ...
I’ve now read a few of the instructors’ works (one going back quite a few years that my wife and I recognized once I re-bought her first work on kindle -- a book I had enjoyed so much when I originally read it, I wrote the author (Katherine Towler) about it back then). I reread that one and both the follow-ups and they were truly terrific reads (reviewed here:).
I’ve also read one of the visiting instructors; David Carroll’s non-fiction work on Albert Camus, the Algerian (mentioned in this interview with Declan Burke and that prompted quick rereads of a few of Camus’ books, short stories (as well as watching the highly acclaimed film, The Battle of Algiers). Interesting stuff.
I read one (Season of Ice) by the new director of the program, Diane Les Becquets (an absolutely unpronounceable last name in Brooklynese) and enjoyed that as well.
Right now I’m reading a book (The Suburbs of Heaven) by the Peer Group Instructor (Merle Drown) running the group I’m in and haven’t put it down.
I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking a more legitimate shot (where I’m required to be much more focused) at a literary novel and meeting some talented writers, co-students and staff alike.
So, while Anthony Weiner is in rehab, the economy is in the shitter, Obama courts Wall Street yet again, there is talk of a possible fourth military engagement, I will be in New Hampshire (the dorms at Southern New Hampshire University) and on a New Hampshire Island (Shutter Island) ... teaching craps? No, no, no ... the felt, dice and chips remain at Casa Stella (in beautiful downtown Fords, New Jersey). I will be working towards an MFA degree which I hope to teach with some day in the future (because it was a teacher, Dave Gresham, who inspired me to try my hand at this writing stuff and if anybody owes that man and teaching in general something honorable this life, it's moi) while making a focused attempt at writing something other than mob fiction and plays. I am looking very forward to the work and exchanges with fellow students and the instructors guiding us all. As for looking forward to lockup ... well, not so much.
I leave early in the morning (adjusted somewhat so I can visit Momma Stella before my adventure north) ... and now that the Mavs have taken down the Miami Choking Dogs, I have no game 7 to look forward to tomorrow night (which I’ll be spending at the bar in the Marriott).
And on that note, congratulations to Cleveland for the Mavericks Championship season.
So, amici, until the end of June, it’s addio for now ...
Don’t you love fat guys who sweat a lot?