MA Semester Two, Week Ten

For our Contemporary Fiction class this week, we had to read Don DeLillo's Falling Man.  I read it on the plane to Rome last Thursday.  Apt, eh?  Well, considering we thought we'd be driving across the continent, reading a book about the 9/11 attacks whilst airborne was a real barrel of laughs.  I'd read the book when it first came out, and though I didn't think it was fantastic, DeLillo's always readable, and I was happy enough to have another go-round.  This time, I liked it a little less - the sections about the terrorist seemed really inauthentic, and the European maybe-terrorist art-dealer dude, Martin, seemed like a deliberate thematic device to me.  It wasn't a very smooth or immersive read.  But still, again, DeLillo's always worth a go, and the sections with the kids, spying out of a high-rise building to find Bin Laden, were fantastic.

Topics we looked at in class included whether fiction-writers have the right to deal with such a traumatic event in lived memory (this question INFURIATED me - of course they do! wtf? Boo-urns to censorship in all its permutations); a summary of other American post-9/11 narratives (Updike's awful Terrorist came up); the representation of New York city in the book; DeLillo's use of time and memory (cyclical structure, repetition, memory-loss, forgetting, memorialising); whether the ending offers any sort of redemption; and a brief look at the ideas of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny.  It was a pretty good discussion, and our second-last CF seminar - next week we're being rescheduled to Wednesday to avoid the bank holiday, and we'll be looking at McEwan's Saturday, to get the UK response to the 9/11 attacks.

In the workshop, later, we looked at two novel extracts, anda good time was had by all.  After a pub-interlude, we headed over to a reading by novelist Giles Foden (of Last King of Scotland fame) and poet Leontia Flynn - she was brilliant, really funny and chatty and engaging.  If she's ever reading elsewhere, I'd recommend popping along - we all came out raving abut her.

So, good day had by all, yadda-yadda-yadda - but, really, I'd rather have stayed in Rome.  Look - doesn't this just totally kick the library's ass?


Andrew Blackman said...

Thanks for posting all this about the MA. I've always wondered what a Creative Writing MA really involves, and after looking at some of your past posts I've got a much better idea (especially from your long comments exchange with Jenn Ashworth about theory vs practice).

Must be hard just getting through all the work as well as doing your own writing (and living your life), so I'm glad you've managed to find the time to blog about it too!

Valerie O'Riordan said...

Thanks, Andrew! That's exactly what I hoped to do - demystify the process for people.

As for getting through the work, well! As manic as it's been from time time time, it's a walk in the park compared to my previous job, which was so massively time-consuming that it stressed me out constantly. I worked part-time during the first term, and that was hard to juggle; since Christmas I've been living off years of savings and it's felt like a holiday! Though the looming deadlines right now would beg to differ...