Friday, August 12, 2005

The Perks of Being a Writer in Residence

One of my "jobs" this summer has been to copy hours and hours of video footage from readings and lectures and Q+A's that have occurred in these here parts to DVD. Most of the tapes are old and crusty. Adjectives some people are eager to apply to academia.

The tapes, however, are very interesting. And occasionally I'm amazed by how much and how little the "climate" of readings seems to have changed in the last couple of decades.

For example:

In a q+a from 1989, Margaret Atwood says that it took her 25 years to write Cat's Eye* She takes milk in her coffee. She seems rather bored with the whole q+a routine, probably because everyone is too afraid to ask real questions. She expresses extreme interest in going to see Ralph, the famous swimming pig. And she signs books. No electronic signatures in 1989.

Her fee today would be at least three times our annual budget. All the more reason to preserve the footage, I suppose.

*I highly recommend this book. The writing is fantastic. Moreover, like the wicked stepsisters, Cordelia is one of the original mean girls. But be warned: you'll never look at a ravine the same way again.

**Stay tuned for details re: Stanley Fish, John Barth, Sharon Olds, Hugh Kenner, and James Dickey (from 1979!).


mzn said...

I second your recomendation of Cat's Eye.

This sounds like a fascinating project. We're archiving here, too. Elana is transferring her VHS archive to DVD, so while I'm working I occasionally hear snippets of the Facts of Life theme or some dialogue from the Wonder Years.

You never took us to see Ralph, "the famous swimming pig."

femme feral said...

ralph is long retired. next time you come, we'll take you to the place where he used to swim. It's actually this really cool spring. you can ride a glass-bottom and see the water bubbling out of the limestone. It's pretty rad.

femme feral said...

that's supposed to be glass-bottomed boat.