Thursday Jan 27

Robert Clark Young You can learn a lot from reading. You can learn a lot more from looking for good writing for other people to read. When you read for yourself, you read what interests you. When you read slush, looking for pieces that are good enough to publish, you read beyond your interests. You learn more that way.

Because I was born and raised in Southern California, I know little about having neighbors. Having neighbors is different from having people living next door to you. There’s a reason why serial killers can keep a single address for thirty years. It’s because they don’t really have neighbors.

Fortunately, there are people like John Schulze, who tells us in “Neighborly” what it means to be, well, neighborly. I wish he would move next door to me and start doing me some favors. I hope that I would be a better neighbor than the people he gets stuck with.

Until a few days ago, I knew nothing at all about racing kayaks and canoes. I should have had no reason to read about such races were I not looking for something good for you to read. Fortunately for you, I have found it. It’s called “The Broadway Bridge at Six Mile Falls” and it’s by Emily Kohler.

Sometimes the lessons in reading are formal ones—that is, having to do with form. Since one of the elements that shapes form in literature is point of view, and since most personal narratives are told in the first person, I’m always intrigued by pieces of creative nonfiction that employ the third person. Why not? While “The Itch, August 1978,” by Shauna Hambrick Jones is compelling for any number of reasons, the choice of point of view gives it an “outsider’s” perspective that accentuates the idiosyncracy of the subject matter.

Finally, while I’ve read any number of polemics premised on the notion that literature is endangered, and I was in fact once compelled to compose 7,000 words demonstrating why the novel in particular is not doomed, I have never before seen the opposing brief so compactly expressed, in little more than a page. I still don’t agree that literature is dead or dying. But in the interests of furthering the debate, I give you “On Literature” by Sam Rasnake.