First Blood: Sacrificing Rambo to Save Masculinity

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My copy of First Blood.

In her 2000 “Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man,” Susan Faludi spends a chapter examining masculinity within father/son traditions, complicated by two wars (World War II and the Vietnam War), as it has played out in the 1972 novel, “First Blood.” Her discussion dives into masculinity and father-son relationships in the life of the novel’s author, David Morrell; in the long process in which the movie industry tried to turn the novel into a movie it could market; and in the life of the actor, Sylvester Stallone, who finally helped doctor a script that the movie industry could sell to Reagan-era men, but that also preserved some of the soul of the novel, its concern for a masculinity defined amidst father-son relationships torn apart by war. In my Gender and Literature class, we recently took a look at both the novel and Faludi’s discussion of it, and the results were interesting.

What we found was a concern for identity/identification, introduced by setting Teasle and Rambo against each other, at one point looking at one another in the mirror, coming to understand the ways in which their identities mirror one another (both are decorated war vets, Rambo of Vietnam, Teasle of Korea), and with an exploration of the role of naming in identification, but also “gazing” – how one internalizes the identity given to them by the way people look at them (the movie takes this to a completely different place when Stallone is presented with the body of a body-builder). It’s worth noting that Morrell had wanted it to be unclear in the novel who was the protagonist, and he succeeded until the movie makers determined that Rambo, the prodigal son, would be the hero, and Teasle, representing the corrupt institution that rejected Rambo, would be the villain.

But in the book, Teasle also becomes something of a father figure to Rambo, or wants to be, calling him “the kid” throughout, even after he knows Rambo’s name. Father-son relationships are important in “First Blood” and are explored in terms of fishing and hunting trips. Rambo doesn’t fish, though. His father had beaten him regularly (just as Stallone’s father did) and that symbol had lost its meaning. But Rambo knows that sort of relationship when he sees it, as he does in the forest early in the novel when he runs into a backwoods father and son drinking moonshine, the only men Rambo encounters in the forest and purposefully allows to live. But for Rambo, as with Teasle, father-son relationships have always been complicated, painful. For Teasle because his father died young, and his surrogate father, Orval, had always been something of a hard man on Teasle, their relationship often defined by competition. Rambo’s father-son relationships had been defined by violence, including when he joined the marines.

Rambo’s father-figure in the military was a distant figure, Trautman (read trout-man; fisher-man; for both father-son fishing, but also the religious-institutional idea of Trautman as a fisher-of-men). Trautman ran the base and program where Rambo was trained (“The best we ever trained”). He arrives on the scene as a representative of the military institution, but also as Rambo’s “father,” having come to bring him home, to catch him and reel him in. Trautman has created Rambo, and the institution he represents has a vested interest in keeping a hold on him. But that’s not the only institution interested in managing Rambo. It’s rather curious that, early in the novel, Teasle takes Rambo to the police station, and there’s a bit made about the fact that the police station is painted red – it used to be a schoolhouse – and that they are waiting for the blue (water, washing, purity) and white (purity, sanctity) paint to come in, to paint over the red (blood) – and all together it building represents the red, white, and blue. There will be a lot of red/blood throughout the novel, the result, it seems to argue, of institutions (police, school, but also religion) failing Rambo/male, who, as well, dies in the end (unlike in the novel) as a sort of purifying sacrifice. The institutions have trained Rambo’s body (see Foucault, panopticon), have made it into a killing machine, have done so within the context of father-son patriarchy, and have then failed to tame what they created, resulting in the eventual sacrifice of the son, seemingly to purify the whole mess.

And lest this seem to be reading too much in, follow me on this. In the final pages, Rambo is crawling away from a town he has destroyed. He crawls through a playground (boy, “kid,” son), and is followed by Teasle. Both have been carved up by brambles (thorns) on their backs and heads, both have holes in their sides, they have come to identify with one another, even as Rambo holds up his gun seeing a triple image (Trinity) of Teasle, thinking he should just shoot “Teasle’s center image.” And the final scene plays out between a Trinity – Teasle, Rambo, and Trautman – with Trautman pulling the trigger on a sacrificial Rambo.

Meanwhile, throughout the novel, Rambo had been debating with himself about his own faith. In the middle of the novel, in an effort to escape the violence he has wrought, and its consequences, Rambo finds himself down a mine, a cave, what becomes sort of a womb, that he travels through, uncertain whether he is making his way deep into the womb/cave to die (to be unborn) or to find his way out at the other end to live (to be reborn). In the end he finds his way out, is reborn, on the way to his final showdown with his mirror/center image, Teasle, and his purifying, saving sacrifice. The whole novel becomes an attempt to recover a masculinity created by institutions that then failed it, rejected it, and judged it. But the recovery fails when the institutions sacrifice Rambo in order to save the institutions and the masculinity that serves them.

Unfortunately, as much as the novel takes an interesting look at masculinity in the late 60s and early 70s, it fails to examine its own understanding of womanhood. Through the whole novel, one problem that interrupts a recovery of masculinity is the women in the lives of the men. In particular, Teasle seems to conclude by the end of the novel that his now estranged wife was largely the reason that he had lost himself, the self that had been confident, that had understood who he was, that he only recovered when he engaged in a one-on-one war with his mirror image. Unfortunately, Morrell’s women, it seems, are either caretaker wives, or problems for male identity. That element is completely removed from the film in which masculinity is heroic, anti-institutional, and, ironically, the foundation of an aggressively violent, pro-war, incredibly profitable Rambo movie franchise.

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3,193 Beautiful Beginnings (NaNoWriMo)

by B. Lee Miller

For those who don’t know, every November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/). Every year, over 300,000 people around the globe certify having written a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. Now, the point is not quality, although the one previous time that I participated, I produced a draft of a novel that now runs around 65,000 words and that I am still revising and from which I’ve sent out excerpts for publication. The point is the process. Getting used to putting words on paper, whatever may come of it.

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This year is my second year to participate. My class, Gender and Literature, is spending much of November writing. They are to write a critical essay and some sort of literature. It is up to them whether to complete a lengthy, messy draft of something, or a more finished, and thus necessarily shorter draft. We will then read one another’s work and look at gender in this newly written literature. It should be fun.

Those who participate in NaNoWriMo know that you must average 1,667 words per day to reach the 50,000-word goal. I don’t know that I’ll make it this year. I have too much on my plate. But I did start today on a project I have tentatively titled “Beautiful Beginnings.” It will be made up entirely of journal entries by the two main characters. I began today by writing 3,193 words, 328 of which I’ve pasted below. For a little context, the writer of this journal entry is exploring a long term fascination with the number 28, and the numbers 4 and 7 that, when multiplied, make 28. Anyway, here you go:

I walked between home and school all through my four years of Elementary School. It was a long walk, so I had a lot of time to think. I would count to four, or sometimes eight, over and over in my head. I counted to four in my head a lot in those four years. And I would make short humming noises with each step. Four at a time. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. It was a tick that I sometimes still have to keep myself from doing. It started up again four months and four days ago. The whole day today I counted to four in my head. Sometimes hummed. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. Four steps at a time, just like in marching band during my four years in High School. Left. Right. Left. Right. Four steps and four beats at a time. For the four beats for every bar. Most music is structured four beats per bar, four bars at a time, and in sixteen-bar sets – four times four is sixteen, four times sixteen is sixty-four. I will never see sixty-four. You wouldn’t need me if I did reach sixty-four. There were four Beatles.

Four is a pretty common number. There are four corners of the earth. Four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Four Gospels. There are four sides to a square. Four seasons. For directions. North. South. East. West. In Buddhism, there are Four Noble Truths. I was forty-four, with the dash, when my life changed forever. The day was April 4, 2014: 4/4/14. I began my walk on August 8 – 8/8, two times four is eight. You were sixteen – four times four – when I changed your life forever. If you google “living homeless for dummies” you can find a wauzoo.com page with the picture of homeless man holding a sign that says “Family Kidnaped by Ninjas Need $4 Karate Lessons.” I need to try to get eight hours of sleep tonight. Two times four is eight.

ZooTV: A Paper from One Professor’s Past

by B. Lee Miller

I spent one semester (okay, maybe more) of my six years as an undergraduate uncertain what I wanted to do with my life. I transferred to a different school and took two courses I just wanted to take, courses I couldn’t afford to take at the much more expensive private university I had been attending: Psychology and Sociology. The Psychology course was the type that had over a hundred students in the class, where the professor just read from the book, and where we took tests over what the professor head read from the book. There was generally poor attendance (the professor didn’t take attendance), except on test days. The Sociology course had about twenty students in it and was taught by a graduate teaching assistant. We had a sociology textbook that looked, cost, and weighed about the same as the psychology textbook, but the course was approached more as a discussion course, which is more possible with 20 students than with 100.

 

In the Sociology course, we were asked to write a term paper in which we used basic terminology in the study of sociology to interpret some phenomenon. It just so happens that I had spent the last year and a half working at Hastings Books, Music, and Video, and that one video that had caught my attention was U2’s “Zoo TV: Live from Sydney.” That video was made of clips from the last leg of U2’s tour in support of “Achtung Baby,” and then “Zooropa,” which they wrote and recorded during the tour. Now, you have to understand, I was not a huge U2 fan. Yes, I liked “Joshua Tree” well enough, but I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. When the film “Rattle & Hum” came out – panned for its seeming self-righteousness – I was in high school. I saw it in the theatres. People danced in the aisles. I liked it well enough, but parts of it have grown on me over the years. In any case, the response to that film and album (also titled “Rattle & Hum”) left U2 openly deciding it was time to go away for a while and “reinvent” themselves as a band. The result was “Achtung Baby” and the “Zoo TV” tour.

 

My brother bought me copy of “Achtung Baby” for my birthday. I listened to it. Like a lot of people, I thought, what is this? There was a mixture of dance, pop, rock, even some overtures to grunge. It was U2 plugged in and untamed (in an era when everyone was going onto MTV Unplugged). After listening to it once, I set it aside as…meh…. My response to “Zooropa” was even more tepid. It wasn’t until, out of boredom, that I rented “Zoo TV: Live from Sydney” that I discovered a real interest in what U2 was perhaps doing at the time. I was fascinated by the film and when given an opportunity to write a school paper on it – in a Sociology class – I took it.

 

During the first set, Bono appears on stage covered in black leather, his hair slicked back, and with large bug-eyed sun glasses. He is “The Fly,” from the song “The Fly,” and he’s standing back watching the stars fall because of one man’s lie, a blending of Bono’s struggle with his own faith, but also his own role as a pop star. But the first set also pushes back against the criticism of U2’s self-righteousness, as well as of their popularity. In both sound and lyric, dress and posturing, but also by taking to excess the very things they are criticized for, U2 pushes everyone back so that they can be alone on the stage, the only real insiders, even as the fans, who don’t realize they have been made outsiders, express their adulation. Messages are flashed across large TV screens as the band plays “The Fly”: Everything You Know is Wrong, This Is Not a Rehearsal, Taste is the Enemy of Art, BELIEVE, Religion is a Club, Silence = Death, Contradiction Is Balance, Watch More TV. The Fly then pauses for a brief monologue in which he comments that this is a rock-and-roll show, that “you haven’t come all the way out here to watch TV, now have ya’?” The songs that follow, mostly from “Achtung Baby” very clearly engage in cultural and religious discourse, attempting to provide a counter-culture stance from an, admittedly excessive mainstream perspective. Everyone’s an outsider.

 

 

However, lest their fans grow weary of being made outsiders, lest they become numb (In a later set, “Numb” becomes an anthem critiquing first-world political-military-economic exploitation of third-world peoples), U2 then walks a long path out into the middle of the crowd and plays an “unplugged” set that includes a cover of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”: “I love to watch things on (Zoo) TV.” The Fly has removed his bug-eyes and turned back into Bono, just a regular guy singing about love, faith, hope, and regular people. But when they return to the stage, they blow things up again as they “Bullet the Blue Sky” and a have much larger than life visit on TV from Martin Luther King, Jr., clearly one of Bono’s heroes. Bono and U2 have welcomed their fans back into the fold as insiders celebrating hope. And then the stage goes dark.

 

When sound returns, we hear a Russian folk song and then the beginning of “Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car.” Bono sits in a dressing room, outfitted in a gold suit, platforms, and gold horns, putting on lipstick – he is Mr. MacPhisto – while the rest of the band are on stage, dressed clean cut in uniforms – offspring of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Fans are both insiders on the allusions, but also on the role of Mr. MacPhisto, which, ironically enough, is to keep the fans at bay. Mr. MacPhisto interrupts the encore with a monologue. Often he will make a call to the President of the United States, but tonight he calls a taxi to take him home. The operator hangs up on him. Mr. MacPhisto, the flashy gold symbol of the excesses of the stardom about which Bono and the ban are ambivalent, has no place in this world.

 

As Mr. MacPhisto listens to the beep, beep, beep after the operator has hung up, “Lemon” begins: “A man makes a picture/A moving picture/Through the light projected/He can see himself up close”; “A man builds a city/With banks and cathedrals/A man melts the sand so he can/See the world outside.” The Fly/Bono/Mr. MacPhisto/U2 have been the ultimate insiders, have reached the peak of stardom, only to discover that it’s awfully lonely up there on top, that the gold-sequined devil in the mirror has not future, and they are now struggling to be both outsiders and insiders at the same time, to keep their fans but keep them at arm’s length. It can’t be an accident that the final two songs are “With our Without You” and “Love Is Blindness.”

 

There’s a degree to which the whole concert (or clips of several concerts), caught on film, performs a cultural ritual, fulfilling the desires of the crowd while also keeping the crowd at a safe distance. In a sense, they have attempted to perform the carnival function (a sort of endorsed period of joyous reversing of serious ritual that especially targets representatives of institutional power), but find themselves both the subjects and objects of the critique (and preservation) of power distribution implicit in carnival. They are deeply conflicted, but seem to know it. They want to be adored, but they don’t want the criticism that always comes with adoration.

 

I still have that paper that I wrote for Sociology 1510 at the University of North Texas and turned in February 27, 1995. The written comments used words like “insightful” and “excellent writing skills.” The best comment, though, was in person, when my instructor said that the paper made him want to go out and watch the video. I wonder if he ever did.

 

 

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What are you writing?

by B. Lee Miller

 

I teach writing and the teaching of writing. And one of the things I often talk about with students who will one day teaching writing is the importance of their having their own writing life if they are to ask, or invite, students to do the same. What sense does it make, I will suggest, for someone who doesn’t write to teach writing? And I’m not suggesting that a person has to publish, or even be a very good writer, to teach writing and to teach it well (conversely, just because someone writes well doesn’t mean they can teach it well). But I do wonder how well a person can comment on students’ struggles with writing when they do not themselves know those struggles personally. That I write – a fair amount – and may even someday have a few publications to my name (I’m working on that one…submitting stuff for publication is time-consuming and boring…I’d rather just start writing something else), allows me to talk with my writing students about the processes and road blocks and strategies that are involved in writing. So, with this blog post, I share what I, a writing teacher, am working on, right now (which is to say, I’ll leave off the projects that I’ve just begun, or that have a long way to go, focusing only on those that I am close to sending out for rejection, er, possible publication).

Black Belt. A little under five years ago, I began to study Tang Soo Do, a South Korean martial art. A requirement for the advanced belts (green and brown series), at least in my school, is a series of papers in response to prompts – one for each belt level. As I approached the time when I would test for my black belt (last December) I began to read back through those papers and consider whether I could pull them together (including the paper for my black belt test), shape them into a unified essay, and submit them somewhere for publication. It’s an English-professor-gets-a-black-belt essay entitled “Black Belt” and awaits my taking the time to send it out somewhere.

A Time to Gather Stones. The first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I drafted a novel that had been knocking around in my head for several years. I wanted to transplant plot lines from the Abraham-Isaac-Jacob narratives in the biblical book of Genesis to the mid-to-late 20th-Century American South, the narrative infused, or informed, by some ideas found in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, but also in Buddhism. I titled the resulting draft, A Time to Gather Stones. I still have a couple of chapters (the opening and closing) to draft, and a third major round of revisions, but I hope to float some sections for publication soon. An excerpt:

From “Spring, 1946; Habersham, Georgia”

Ka-thunk, pf. Ka-thunk, pf. There was a certain rhythm to the hard thud of the small round ball bouncing off the wall. Isaac threw the ball with his right hand, caught it with his left. The sound echoed through the empty corridor. It would be some time, he knew, before another student showed up for school. Most kids, he figured, were still sitting at the kitchen table eating eggs and bacon and toast with jam. These days, Isaac got to school early. As early as possible. Not that he liked school. He didn’t. Too many people telling him what to do. He got enough of that at home. But at least at school, if he stayed out of the way, he was mostly left alone. He liked that.

So, each morning, as soon as the rooster crowed, Isaac would throw on his jacket and run out to the chicken coop and the barn. By the time he returned with eggs and milk, oatmeal would be on the table. It would be dry and salty, but he wouldn’t say anything about it. He said nothing to his father that he didn’t have to. He just poured warm milk on it and ate. He then grabbed the lunch he had made the night before – always a sandwich and a piece of fruit – and darted out the door, running until he was off his father’s farm. It would not be until he slowed to a walk that he would notice the sun just beginning to emerge from the horizon, just beginning to shed much welcomed warmth across his body.

40. I wrote a lot of really bad poetry in my late teens and early 20s. A comment from an English Professor where I went for my undergraduate convinced me to stop writing poetry. I’ve long told students that I really don’t get poetry. Regardless, as I approached 40, I found all the poetry I had written during that period (and a few poems since) and began to transcribe it for posterity’s sake (why, I don’t know…partly because my daughter was learning to write). I got the idea, at one point, to see if I could find any snippets – lines, phrases, stanzas, perhaps even an occasional poem – that I could revise into a series, or book, of 40 poems in which I would examine my own growth as a human, a writer, and a man, in particular, a man staring 40 in the face. I’m ready to send out several series of poems, and one long poem, for possible publication. Whether anyone will ever want the book I have imagined, I don’t know, but if not, I’ll self-publish. An excerpt:

40

Stop shouting at me, and

        let’s pour a drink.

Let’s mix up our words until they

                                                     fall to the floor

        and whimper

                       their fear of absence and forgetting,

        and the moon slips away

                       into a thousand still moments.

Let’s feel the waves of molecules

                                                     pushing and pulling,

        demanding, flowing,

                       our drink slipping us into

        the rippling water

                       as it reflects

                                      a watchful moon.

And let us be careful —

        if we dare —

        lest we reach for the moon

        and fall in.

With Woman. My wife and I have for several years involved ourselves in the world of birthing rights and midwifery advocacy. I’ve long wanted to write something about it, so, in addition to one long poem, I am now writing an essay that I have titled “With Woman” that will examine birth, as well as stages in women’s lives, but from the perspective of a husband and father – me – as I continue my long examination of masculinity, or how I understand what it means to be male (as social gender). My hope is to finish a first draft by the end of this semester and then revise and submit it somewhere by next summer.

Something Like Winter. Finally, several years ago, I began drafting what I think will end up being a novella. I began writing this only to have something to offer at our Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society writing workshops and open-mics. The surface story is of a mixed-race couple, with the woman’s young son (from a previous relationship), who is obsessed with the movie “Snow White,” hitting the road to go visit the man’s parents in a suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth area for Christmas. Along the way they pick up the man’s best friend, who is studying English literature in grad school, and the woman’s grandmother, who raised her. The provisional title is “Something Like Winter.” It needs another major revision pass and then I’d like to send it out this winter for possible publication in a print or online magazine that accepts long fiction.

How classes taught me that I don’t know anything

by Hannah Clark

Required reading lists: as an English major, these are my bread and butter. Now that I’ve passed the core survey classes, I find my syllabuses populated with more and more old friends. Maybe you know how I feel: that elation when I’ve read three quarters of the reading list, or the sinking feeling I experience when I think, aren’t we going to study anything new?

Due to the liberal arts nature of my education, many of my classes repeat texts. I’ve studied The Great Gatsby three times. The idea is that, thanks to repetition, students who haven’t taken all the English courses can still sample the most “important” texts in the English language. But who picks what’s important?

I’m currently taking a Gender and Literature course at CSC. My professor, Dr. Lee, asked us a simple question: who are the most important authors in the English language? This required both an opinion and a recitation of the Western canon. All the big names made an appearance: from Wordworth to Shakespeare, and Chaucer to Dickens. I guessed at his game and made sure to mention female authors. But after Austen and Eliot, Bronte and Woolf appeared on the board, he still made a point.

“White male, white male,” he said, as he read down the list, “white female, white male…” and so it went. I realized that in my 18 years of formal education, I had never studied a female African American author. It was only as a junior, in an optional modern short-story class, I was assigned a female author who was not white.

This showed me that the composer of my curriculum is just as important as its composition. The two are directly related. I used to think the great English works were universally approved; I recognize now that they may just be university-approved. After reading Toni Morrison and Zora Neal Hurston, I now suspect that although Shakespeare and Wordsworth are very important, there are many other equally, if not more important authors to the English language.

This class also shook my belief that I can anticipate what I will learn. Classes like “British Literature from 1066” are self-explanatory. I know what I’m expected to learn. Then, as my critical education increased, class titles turned from categories to concepts. The greatest lesson I’ve learned from these classes, like Gender and Literature, is that I don’t know anything. I can read a classic like The Great Gatsby three times and still discover new significance in its weathered pages. I assumed I had the broad swath of English and American literature under my belt, but now I see I only learned one perspective. The traditional world of academia does not encompass the whole world. Required reading lists have taught me plenty about their suggested texts, but my classes have taught me that those texts are not the only things I should be reading.

The Bee and the Pear Tree

by B. Lee Miller

Below is an excerpt from Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Pp. 10-11 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006). I share it because as I read the novel again for a class, recently, this particular passage struck me for its beauty in depicting the coming of age of a young woman.

“It was a spring afternoon in West Florida. Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back-yard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness.

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid.”

What are you reading?

by B. Lee Miller

I’ve been tasked with the first round of weekly departmental blogging and have settled on beginning with the meme, “What are you reading?” I’ve wondered, at times, whether students might be curious about what their professors choose to read and how they choose what they read. In fact, a student asked me those very questions just yesterday in class.

My own current list may seem lengthy. I don’t just read one or two things at a time, but typically have a running list of around a dozen books going at any one time. Some of these are for classes I’ve taught, am teaching, or will teach. Some are typical professional literature. Some are related to projects I’m working on, whether that involves research of some sort or another, or if I am reading in the kind of literature I’m trying to write.

So, for example, the books related to birth, post-partum, menopause, etc., relate to an essay I’m trying to write (emphasis on trying) that examines masculinity through my own experiences as a husband, present with my wife through pregnancy, birth, post-partum, and eventually menopause, and as a father of an eleven-year-old daughter just entering adolescence.

One other comment about the number of works on this list. I have trouble staying focused for very long. I know, an odd thing for a professor to say. It’s the rare work that will maintain my undivided interest for very long, if for no other reason than that I am usually hyper-aware of all that goes on around me, but also because I get bored easily (and because, with five children, I am usually sleep-deprived, which doesn’t help concentration). So, I constantly switch between books, reading a section of one book and then switching to another book, and so on. But I also constantly move from one book to another because it forces me to deal with the dialogue created by the constant switching of authors and their perspectives.

So, all that said, here is my current reading list (this is the order in which they appear on my iPhone list!):

  • Plato, Republic. (Books II, III, & VII)
  • For a class I am teaching called “Gender and Literature”
    • Rich, Adrienne. Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972.
    • Morrell, David. First Blood. (yes, that First Blood!)
    • Faludi, Susan. Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. (Chapter 7 on David Morrell, First Blood – the book and the movie, Sylvester Stallone, and issues of fathers, sons, and masculinity)
  • Macrorie, Ken. Telling Writing, 4th
  • Hoover, Paul, ed. Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, 2nd
  • Kinzie, Mary. A Poet’s Guide to Poetry.
  • For the essay I’m working on that I have titled, “With Woman” (“Midwife” means “with woman”)
    • Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique.
    • Rimm, Sylvia. See Jane Win for Girls: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Success.
    • Wertz, Richard W., and Dorothy C. Wertz. Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America.
    • Dick-Read, Grantly. Childbirth without Fear.
    • Armstrong, Penny, and Sheryl Feldman. A Midwife’s Story.
    • Bennett, Shoshana S. Postpartum Depression for Dummies.
    • Jones, Marcia L., Theresa Eichenwald, and Nancy W. Hall. Menopause for Dummies.
  • Two holdovers from when I was teaching a course on the literature and practice of world religions:
    • 122 Zen Koans: Find Enlightenment.
    • Moran, Elizabeth, Master Joseph Yu, and Master Val Biktashev. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feng Shui.
  • Schwartz, Jason. “End Game” (In The Best American Sports Writing 2013).