The latest edition of Grotto Class Notes is set to be emailed soon, with our Grotto teachers’ usual tidbits of advice and reading recommendations. Our amazing Grotto Classes czar Janis Cooke Newman asked me to pitch in a note for the newsletter:
“Note three: What we’re reading now
From Rachel Howard (Fact Is Not Truth Memoir Intensive, Mondays, beginning May 9; and Intermediate/Advanced Memoir Workshop, beginning Tuesdays beginning April 12)
I love what I call “mosaic writing”—memoirs or essays broken down into tiny “tiles” that can be moved around and juxtaposed to create a larger design. I’m always excited when I find another strong example of this technique to show students whose prose leans towards the qualities of poetry, and who may not be interested in a more conventional “through-written” structure. So I was thrilled to recently discover Maggie Nelson’s Bluets (Wave Books). It’s an intense and shockingly personal philosophical meditation on the color blue, the nature of longing and pain, the bitterness of a toxic love affair, and the struggle to re-embrace meaning—all delivered in potent three-to-ten sentence “propositions.” Here’s a sampling:
35. Does the world look bluer from blue eyes? Probably not, but I choose to think so (self-aggrandizement).
36. Goethe describes blue as a lively color, but one devoid of gladness. “It may be said to disturb rather than enliven.” Is to be in love with blue, then, to be in love with a disturbance? And what kind of madness is it anyway, to be in love with something constitutionally incapable of loving you back?
37. Are you sure—one would like to ask—that it cannot love you back?
If you’re interested in exquisite writing that erases the lines between poetry, essay, and memoir, you’ll love Bluets.”
The full Class Notes email will be packed with advice from fellow Grotto teacher Gerard Jones and others; sign up for it here.