Thursday, May 1, 2014

Currently Reading: Blue Angel

During the Spring semester of my freshman year at Fairfield University, I was a little awkward and out of place for a few weeks, maybe months. I transferred to Fairfield U the day after classes started for the new semester. It was a rash and rushed decision on my part to transfer but it is one of the smartest decisions I ever made. I'm so glad I changed my major and decided to go to a different college than the one I first attended.

But that's for another post!

Anyway, one of the things I vividly remember about that first semester in which I was accustoming myself to my new school, is sitting on the benches on the second floor of Canisius Hall between my Elementary Italian class and Mass Media sociology class. I had 50 minutes between the two classes and I didn't know what to do with myself! I didn't know where the cafeteria was (I still don't really know) and I didn't know the library well (I do now) so I just stayed in the same building rather than venturing out. I would sit on the bench and, for my first few weeks of that semester, I would read "Household Saints" by Francine Prose. A wonderfully strange but somehow realistic and relatable book, it kept me company when the hallways were dead quiet and it was engrossing enough to be distracted by the noise when students would start milling about around me. Since reading the first page of that book, I have become an obsessed Francine Prose fan and, once I finished "Household Saints,"I quickly bought 5 more of Prose's books at the same time.

And, getting to the point, I am now reading her novel called "Blue Angel." It was published in 2000 and was a National Book Award Finalist. I'm less than 100 pages in and I'm really enjoying it. I don't think it's her strongest book—her short stories and "Household Saints" are forever my favorites—but it's kind of illuminates the life of a writer/professor and it makes me wonder if there's a touch of prose in her protagonist as she, too, is a writer/professor. It makes me feel like I'm getting a little peek into her life, but of course, it's fiction so I'm not supposed to assume something like that.

The novel revolves around the life of Swenson, a writer and creative writing professor at a university in New England. One of his students starts bringing him chapters of her story in progress and, so far, he's enthralled by her talent. To be honest, if this book weren't by Francine Prose I might not have been drawn to it (however I think just coming off of an amazing Elena Ferrante book could be part of the issue) but I do like what it offers as far as a view into the life of an academic creative writer.

I'll post about it once I finish the entire book, and perhaps I'll write about it again in the middle if it's taking me a while to finish!

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