Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This and That Opinion

Iowa Writers' Workshop Tidbits

Two news items mentioning graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop came across the desk today. As a summer enrollee keeping the school on the radar screen, there's always been an interest in whether or not attending fulltime would be beneficial.

First Article. Awards story about M. T. "M.T. received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in May 2011 and returned to waiting tables in Dallas."

Second Experience. From the library picked up the writing craft book written by Stephen Wilbers entitled (and it's hard to put title in writing for there's a three-key symbol and parenthesis around word "keys" above words "to Great Writing.") Obviously he's a professor who requires student book purchase. Inside the book he states he attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the history of the program. So far the book content has not been unique or absorbed with staying power. If you're a business student struggling with English, probably beneficial. Did enjoy the description of the city of Minneapolis, which book cover blurb gave as home of the author. But then again, I'm a fan of the Twin Cities, if not its sports teams.


After that last paragraph, perhaps it was good that Sunday's gospel lesson was Matthew 18:21-25.

The theme of forgiveness has multiple facets. Begin with the truth you've received forgiveness in your life. Someone has overlooked wrong that you've done. Someone has given you a new chance, a fresh start. Someone has released you from the ball and chain of your own wrongdoing. And, it need not be criminal in the eyes of the state. Thus, Matthew quotes Christ as being mad at one who does not forgive another.

Forgiveness is courage, endless courage.

Cutting for Stone

This book by Abraham Verghese was the subject this week of one of my book clubs. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that he too is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. While there was a group positive consensus for this New York Times bestseller, there was also a strong rip tide undercurrent of the book's verbosity. This latter comment exemplified by one person stating: "Should've cut 200 pages."

Other than wordiness, other writing examples surfaced. On page 319 at the top there is reference that character had no belt, no holster, no shirt. Then, at page 321, this character in the same continuing scene sticks gun deep into waistband "behind his belt buckle." What?

Readers got confused by numerous point of view shifts without warning and at one place where Thomas Stone could see the real world WHILE ASLEEP.  Or a character wears a gown and then is said to have tears on a blouse. Or a character's statement of what the future will be when he hasn't gotten there yet.

Trust Mr. Verghese will forgive for the above. The novel's passion burst forth even if the writing execution demonstrated faults. Should one also forgive if this blog is quoted as saying of Cutting for Stone that "The novel's passion burst forth...?"

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