Library Play Day

Arriving on campus early to beat midday parking drama, I decided to hang out in the Fortress of Solitude (book nerd version) until it was time for class.

Fortress, but not of “Solitude”

The campus library is more like a crowded ice castle of silence (solitude is only available on Fridays, weekends, and anytime that feels “too dang early”).

Hiking up the echoing concrete stairwell to my favorite floor (the 6th), I found an empty aisle with dusty books and made myself at home on the floor to reread my class notes. That lasted all of thirty minutes. I wound up crawling to the literature section and browsing. (I enjoy browsing. There’s a charm in not knowing what book I’m looking for, like casting a net. And the catch is always a surprise.)

The Catch

  • Voice & vision: a guide to writing history and other serious nonfiction (2009) by Stephen J. Pyne

I’ve studied both creative and scientific writing and I appreciate how the core skills required across the various specializations are fundamentally the same. Since they are, I find that the more I engage in any one specialization, there is an indirect benefit to the others. (Concise & effective communication? Needed in fiction AND science.) But I have never even considered learning how to write nonfiction.

Anyway, I read the forward of Voice & Vision and my eyes grew because I thought a thought I’d never thought before: “What kind of story could I tell with the writing skills of a historian?” (I don’t mean their knowledge of history, I mean their SKILLS.) (Watch out, Nonfiction, I’m coming.)

  • The Fantastic in Literature (1976) by Eric C. Rabkin

Please. That title. Of course I’m going to pick it up. And then the preface happened:

“The Fantastic in Literature explores the nature and uses of the fantastic. By examining what makes Fantasy special, we can isolate the affect that flavors so much of our experience in art. This books attempts to explore the mechanisms that generate that affect, following their trail into the worlds of fairy tale, science fiction, detective fiction, religious allegory, and so on, finally reaching the wider field of human psychology.”

Browsing

Is underrated.

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