Category: Academic

Scott Jones – Street of Crocodiles

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Street of Crocodiles

We convene to read from a book that can’t even settle upon its own name. We arrive as realists to a place and time where reality eludes us. I summon you to try and make sense of the nonsensical, to impose structure on that which flows like water through our hands, to explain the unexplainable.

Bruno Schulz, an art teacher and painter in Drogobych, Poland, scribed three literary works of art and then was shot dead by a Gestapo officer – because he was another officer’s tame Jewish painter. Even his death is rendered ambiguous, since he had a revolutionary nest of Poles that wanted to smuggle him to freedom.  He chose what he had known all his life: a claustrophobic death in a provincial town that had claimed him and brutalized him in its cloistered grasp.

In the English-speaking West, Bruno is best known for The Cinnamon Shops (or The Street of Crocodiles), translated by Cellina Wieniewska – a work so unique it is unclassifiable as a novel, or a linked set of short stories, or a memoir, or an extended cadenza out of Bruno’s imagination. This book, if it is a book, can be described about as well as you can explain Mark Rothko’s paintings. 

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Patricia Holland – E. B. White and Me

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E. B. White and Me

Every struggling new writer who has just earned a B.A. in English needs a dose of the career advice E. B. White once gave me. He had very definite views on how to write—what to write about and then—how to get it in print.

Since Andy really didn’t like his first name, Elwyn, he always asked his friends to use his nickname “Andy” although the byline on all of his stories, articles, essays, poems and books listed him as E. B. White.

Today, children may be the only readers who truly appreciate E.B. White for his  excellent stories. E.B. White’s children’s books have lived on past his death in 1985. Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, are still very popular.

Some students currently in college probably know that E. B. White had a strong grasp on the rules of grammar and usage, but’s that all they know about him. In 1959, White took on a freelance project to revise William Strunk’s classic grammar guide, The Elements of Style. From then on the slim little book credited two authors “Strunk and White.” Andy revised it in 1972 and 1979.  

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