Johanna Blakley

Media | Entertainment | Fashion

Sad Summer Reading

Click to see a larger image

Click to see a larger image

I love it that I’ve joined a faculty that actually indulges in summer reading. Every year, the Master of Professional Writing faculty at USC are asked what they read during the break and Dinah Lenney sums it all up in a blog. She saw a theme in her own summer list:

Two more off the top of my head: Light Years by James Salter—beautiful and sad. And A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Hopeful, but sad. Say, why do we love sad stories? How is it they actually comfort us? Or do they?

I know Worldles are very 2010, but they are terrific for processing a large amount of text, analyzing the frequency of words, and spitting out an image that can reveal underlying themes by representing more frequently used words in larger fonts. After I read through the recommendations by all the faculty I wondered if Dinah wasn’t the only one reading tear-jerkers this summer. What does this Worldle tell me? We seem to be fixated on “one sad American family.”

Wow — and I didn’t even mention in that blog that I’m about half-way through Building Stories, Chris Ware’s brilliant “book in a box” which is basically about one very sad American family.

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1 Comment»

  Dinah wrote @

Ah, Johanna, thanks for reminding me, Chris Ware, yes… But I’m thinking about this business of sad. How often do people write novels or stories (make art) from a happy place? Sad would appear to be motivating, at least where writing is concerned. Whereas when I’m happy, I don’t much want to write. Though always happier for having written, it’s true…


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