Part 1 of this post.
I did not read another Donald E. Westlake novel after I graduated from high school and left Madison, even though he published many more volumes before he died in 2008. I discovered other writers and topics that garnered my attention, both through my studies in college and graduate school as well as outside of those topics. But I have maintained my love of reading throughout the subsequent years.
When I finished my doctoral studies and had a few months free between graduation and when I started my first job as an assistant professor, I bought myself the present of a copy of the John Updike book, Rabbit Angstrom: A Tetralogy. The volume, published a couple of years earlier, was a compilation of Updike’s four Rabbit novels, each of which I had read in sequence over a period of about 20 years earlier in my life. For me, it was an indulgence to be able to sit and reread all four of these books, which were among my favorites of all time (ranking right up there with Westlake, of course), and which chronicled the life of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom from high school through the end of his life.
Continue reading “On reading, or the legacy of Donald E. Westlake (part 2)”
I was on vacation back east last week, not far from the small town in Connecticut in which I grew up. I lived there from birth until I graduated from high school and went off to college. Madison was small, at least by the standards of the eight other places I have lived since then, all of which dwarf Madison in size. The population when I left in 1977 was somewhere in the ballpark of 10,000 people; the most recent census data show that the town has grown somewhat since then, but as of last year the population was still only about 18,000.
There were not a lot of diversions for an adolescent the town back then. There was no arcade; in fact, I don’t think there was even any public place that had a pinball machine. There was no fast food; the closest was the soda counter at Jolly’s, one of two drug stores in the town. Television was limited to over-the-air channels, which consisted of the three major networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS; public broadcasting; and three independent stations from New York City – WOR, WNEW, and WPIX – which I recall broadcast mostly reruns and professional sports.
Continue reading “On reading, or the legacy of Donald E. Westlake (part 1)”
There has been a good amount of discussion on the presidential campaign trail about the issue of college affordability and student loan debt. I have written in previous blog posts about some of Hillary Clinton’s proposals, as well as those of Martin O’Malley. This week, I wrote a column for the website The Conversation, where I described why any discussion of college affordability needs to start with the role of Pell Grants, the foundation of the federal government’s student aid programs.