Yes, I’m down the hall from David Gilmour. Each week students stop by my office with names like questions escaping their mouths. Oates? Atwood? Munro? We’ve heard you teach these things, they say. I nod. Gesture toward a seat. Sit down, I say.
It works both ways. When I start class each semester, I tell my students, I only teach women. If you want some dead, white guys, go see Gilmour. Trot yourself down the hall. I’m sure he’s a wonderful writer, but no, I’ve not read his books. You see, I love women. I love reading women. I don’t love men enough and I can only teach what I love. Seriously gay, ethnic women. Cather, Woolf, Dickinson, and of course, Richard Ford.
I teach only the best. I don’t have low shelf-esteem, so I won’t tell you how many times I’ve read To the Lighthouse (100 times). What happens with great literature is that the shadows on the pages move around. The same thing happens with mediocre literature on a slow afternoon, but I digress. I teach only the best. I haven’t encountered any Russian writers yet that I love enough to teach. Once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Next semester I plan to offer a seminar on me.
[UPDATE:] Those remarks were totally off the cuff. At the time of the interview, I was Skyping with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate peace. Moreover, I was gestating a human child inside of my own body.