rmgosselin

rmgosselin
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Rochester, New York, USA
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August 06
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Instructor
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Genesee Community College
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I moved from Boston to Rochester, NY in 2004. I teach composition at a local community college. More at: www.rmgosselin.wordpress.com www.oneoclocktable.com

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MARCH 28, 2010 8:15AM

10 Books a Little Late

Rate: 4 Flag

In no particular order, and painfully incomplete...

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, G.B. Edwards

lepage

"Sing, Christine, sing! Be not bitter, as Lot's wife was. Forgive them, forgive them: for they have loved much!...I wish I could live my life again. I wish I could write my story again. I have judged people. I do not want to judge people. I want to bless."

Edwards taught me how to love, and thus how to die.

Landscape and Memory, Simon Schama
I had no idea what this was about when I first read it, but I knew I'd found something bigger than myself. It's since become a kind of religious text, and the source of several essays.

Alice in Wonderland & Alice Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
The mysterious horrors of the adult world as experienced by a child. Tim Burton & Disney be damned.

Moby Dick, or, The Whale, Herman Melville
Much better than its reputation. A spiritual allegory of America, a paean to idealistic lunacy, a philosophical depth charge, and, above all, my main peep, Bulkington. "Up! Straight up, leaps thy apotheosis!" 

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
The first book to demand everything of me. My mind had to be awake enough to follow the onward rush of language, yet asleep enough to ride the waves. The ending is positively stunning.

Stuart Little, E.B. White
Stuart is a mouse born into a human family. Not adopted: born. White offers no explanations, and none are needed. It is a simple matter of faith and joy in a magical world. To this day, I wake up at night and hear the little plink, plink of Stuart's mighty hammer as he turns on the faucet to brush his teeth. He was awfully alone, really...

The Odyssey, Homer
The only classical Greek hero whom the gods actually liked for being intelligent. When he had himself tied to the mast so he could hear the Sirens sing, I was smitten. Plus, Penelope and Calypso gave me my first Feminist stirrings. I like The Odyssey so much that now I even drive one:

honda

The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
Sam Weller is my hero. (I think I was Cockney in a previous life.)

Rats, Lice, and History, Hans Zinsser
A supposed history of typhus, written in 1934, from one of the most famous textbook writers of all time (now dead, alas). But he never seems to get around to it, instead writing passages like this:

"Man and the rat are merely, so far, the most successful animals of prey. They are utterly destructive of other forms of life. Neither of them is of the slightest earthly use to any other species of living thing."

Is it science? Who cares!

The Rattle Bag, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes
Probably the first book of poems I ever bought of my own free will. Contains Richard Wilbur's translation of A Prayer to Go to Paradise with the Donkeys, by Francis Jammes (a poem I have never been able to read aloud in class without embarrassing myself).

So when do we get to write about the other 100 books we love?

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Comments

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some good stuff here -- and some I'd never heard of.
Great list! Many of these I have not read -- including Moby Dick, I am embarassed to say. I have a love-hate relationship with Alice in Wonderland. I think it's the scholarship and things I've read about it that bug me -- not the work itself. I like it. I just get bugged by sooo much written about it, somehow. Just let it live, for crying out loud's what I say.

Two sweet surprises on your list: Mrs. Dalloway and Stuart Little. I love both of those soo much! I had not read Mrs. Dalloway until I read The Hours by Michael Cunningham. He was inspired by that book. It's funny, I couldn't decide which I should put on the list "The Hours" or "Mrs. Dalloway" both are so phenomenal. So, I left them both off because I think they have had a truly equal influence and -- though they are both sensational -- for different reasons, the other 10 I picked are my "most influential."
skeletnwmn: Thanks! Some of these I found after many, many years of working in bookstores.

Patty: I've never read "The Hours." I read "Mrs. Dalloway" in grad school (seems like a long time ago). "To The Lighthouse" is great, too. I'll pick up The Hours when I have a chance.

cxgkjhl: $50 for BOOT is kind of steep, but keep up the good work.

Lea: Thank you for the feedback. It seems almost cruel trying to pick only 10, but it's a popular number, so...