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May I Come to Your Debauch, Please?

For those of you who will attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Chicago next month, I hope to see you there. In addition to being Inside Higher Ed’s boots on the ground, I’ll be reading with University of Illinois non-fictionists and serving on a panel with fellow McSweeney’s dispatchers.

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January 16, 2009
 
 

For those of you who will attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Chicago next month, I hope to see you there. In addition to being Inside Higher Ed’s boots on the ground, I’ll be reading with University of Illinois non-fictionists and serving on a panel with fellow McSweeney’s dispatchers.

The reading is Thursday afternoon from 3:00-4:15 in the third-floor Waldorf room at the Hilton. The inimitable Philip Graham will read from his follow-up memoir about living in African villages; the incomparable David Wright will read a piece on the 2005 French riots from his viewpoint as a coach of American football in one of the embattled immigrant suburbs; and yours truly will read, the program says, about life as Internet columnist Oronte Churm. (By which I assume they mean a piece about the life and death of fathers. Broad interpretation.)

The panel will convene on Saturday morning, 9:00-10:15, in third-floor room Williford A and is titled “Writing the Dispatch: Inspiration on the Installment Plan.” Philip Graham, Roy Kesey, John Warner, Rob Jacklosky, Holly Jones, and I will discuss the agonies and ecstasies of publishing serially on topics such as being an extra in the Met opera War and Peace, being an expatriate in China and Portugal, supervising an inner-city youth project for river cleanup, and, well, teaching at a large state university—again broadly interpreted.

One of the most exciting events at the conference will be the William Gass tribute in the Grand Ballroom, Friday at 4:30. I hope to be front-row center. Rikki Ducornet, Mary Jo Bang, Kathryn Davis, and Gordon Hutner will speak on Mr. Gass’s work and influence (monumental in both cases) then Mr. Gass will read. (I don’t know how this happened, but old chum Rory will have the challenge and thrill of his life as moderator for the tribute. I can’t believe I’m saying this: I’m actually jealous of Rory.)

Please introduce yourself if you happen to see me somewhere, and if you have anything going on that you think I should see or cover for IHE, please let me know. Above all, my old friend and sometimes-character Frenchy and I would love to be invited to your event, soiree, fete, gala, saturnalia, clambake, masquerade, mixer, salon, benefit, formal, or debauch. I promise we’ll have only one drink on your tab—a Methuselah of Dom Perignon—and act in ways befitting the literary men we are.

Suggestions and invites: oronte.churm@insidehighered.com

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