Monday, February 2, 2015

Reading Tom Robbins' Still Life with Woodpecker

A former student - a senior now who is probably one of the most astute readers I've had in high school classes - let me know that he is currently reading Tom Robbin's classic Still Life with Woodpecker. I was instantly transported back to freshman year of college when a friend handed it to me - and everything about literature changed for a young history major who was destined to switch to English. The book that promises to answer "the mystery of redheads" is a captivating intro to one of America's most innovative and significant writers. And I love when students discover Robbins and all his madcap irreverence.

My student's father recommended the book to him. And that is pretty cool as well, for Robbins is certainly edgy and downright inappropriate at times. Not that a senior in high school shouldn't be able to handle it - but many probably aren't ready. Despite that, Robbins is worth the time for avid readers because of all the ways he challenges convention. I love explaining to students the unique approach Robbins takes to composition. It truly captures the idea of writing as "craft." As teachers of writing, consider sharing some of the magic of Robbins with writers:

Tracy Robbins for

Timothy Egan for the New York Times - on "perfect sentences in an imperfect world."

Alan Rinzler of The Book Deal - with Robbins' advice to writers.

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