Living Abroad — Effects for Writers

I have been living abroad, in Glasgow, Scotland, for three months and have three more to go before I return to Wisconsin. I was lucky enough to take the picture below on Robert Burns Day from Georges Square, not far from where my flat is.

10929908_10202364296668697_8894003860628090647_nAnd yes, people do make Glasgow. Living here has been a challenge and a joy for me. I will always be grateful for the opportunity. A recent article in The Atlantic, For a More Creative Brain, Travel: How international experiences can open the mind to new ways of thinking has pulled me back to The Lyon Review. That article got me thinking a lot about how living abroad has affected me and I blogged about it at PamWritesSense of Connection & Living Abroad. We get comments from MHC alumnae near and far and I got to wondering, how many of our alums have had the opportunity to live abroad for some period of time? Abroad meaning anywhere far from home, landing in a culture unlike your home culture.

If that’s you, what did you learn in your time abroad?

Can you see effects in your writing? In other creative areas? In your life now?

Do you have any writing to submit to The Lyon Review that was inspired by or during your time abroad?? If you do, please visit the submission page here.

Book Club Survey Question

We know Mt Holyoke alumnae are readers. This is a given. How many of you are in a book club? Or, perhaps the better question is, how many of you are in more than one book club – formal or informal?

The Strand

I am a poor member of three different book clubs. In these clubs, no one buys hardcover books. In fact, in all three clubs, new books are studiously avoided until the paperback versions come out. In recent years, there are many more e-readers coming to meetings and in all three groups, I’d say about 25% of members are getting their copies from the library. How does that compare with your book clubs?

We would love to hear from you with your answers to this question — if you are in a book club, approximately what percentage of members read the selections from:

A. a hardcover purchase

B. a paperback purchase

C. an e-copy

D. a library copy

E. a borrowed from a friend copy?

Thanks! Pass the word along to your reading friends.

Answers to Literary Trivia

Aside

Below are the answers to this month’s trivia quiz and some background you might find of interest:

1B. At 82 years of age, Canadian short story writer Alice Munro was long overdue for this honor.

2B. While Poe is probably best known these days for his Gothic tales like the Tell-Tale Heart or The Fall of the House of Usher, he is widely credited for invented the detective story or mystery.  Indeed the Mystery Writers of America‘s top prize, the Edgar, is named in his honor. And Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was a huge admirer.  Poe did also write science fiction but was not the first to do so.

3E. Annie Dillard attended Hollins University, a women’s college in Roanoke, Virginia. An essayist, poet and novelist, Dillard is particularly known for her gorgeous prose and contemplations on nature, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek at just 28 years of age. Plath and Steinem both attended Smith, Le Guin attended Radcliffe and Wasserstein, of course, Mount Holyoke.

4D. Novels Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published by Austen’s brother after her passing.  She had worked on and off on both novels for many years.

5C. Agatha Christie remains the world’s best-selling author. Her 82 books have been translated into 44 languages with an estimated four billion copies of her various mysteries  sold.

6D. Jordan Baker was Daisy’s best friend and love interest of Nick Carraway.  African-American dancer and night club star Josephine Baker was the toast of Paris during the 20s and 30s–the same period in which Fitzgerald wrote and coined the term, The Jazz Age.

7D, E, F, C, B, A

8D. James Baldwin began publishing in the mid-40s, about twenty years after the Harlem Renaissance. His best known work today remains Go Tell it On the Mountain.

9B. British author Fowles said the masterful psychological novel in Greece. Perhaps best known for his novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman thanks to the 1982 movie version starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, Fowles once said that all of his novels, he loved The Magus the best because it was the most flawed.

10D. While Margaret Atwood writes everything from science fiction to historical novels to poetry to literary criticism, Lark and Termite is a novel by Jayne Anne Phillips, about two siblings living in West Virginia in the 1950s during the Korean War and for which Phillips was nominated for the 2009 National Book Award.

11B. Vietnam

12D. While the concept of the tesseract is real, to date no one has been able to bend time and space in such a way to make hyperspace travel possible.

13B, D, A, F, C, E

14. “Absolution” was written by that other brilliant Catholic American short story writer, none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald. Some literary scholars say this story was originally part of one of the earlier drafts of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald wrote more than 400 short stories, mostly for the Saturday Evening Post, to cover Zelda and his living expenses while he worked on his novels.

Notes and commentary by Sandi Sonnenfeld ’85, Managing Editor of The Lyon Review.