All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘In the Sanctuary of Outcasts’
Discussion Begins Today!
Neil White, whose daughter Maggie is a rising senior, is author of this year’s freshman reading selection, as well as the selection of the Davidson College Online Book Club.
White, who will visit campus Sept. 13, will also be online to participate in the Book Club’s discussion Aug. 17-21. Click to visit the page, and post a comment (which will pre-approve your future comments).
Join us as we discuss this thoughtful and compelling work of literary journalism!
With all the suggestions for summer reading flying around, allow me to add two selections to your list of candidates. Both are by Davidson College parents.
First, you may have already heard Robert Strauss on “Charlotte Talks” this week, talking about his new book, Daddy’s Little Goalie: A Father, His Daughters, and Sports. One of his daughters, Ella, just finished her first year at Davidson. I haven’t read the book yet, but am looking forward to it.
“It is a love letter of sorts, but without the syrup and sap. And the tears. What separates it from the well-worn genre of fathers and offspring bonding is gender.” said the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Second, a book I have read and plan to read again is Neil White’s In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. White’s daughter Maggie is a rising Davidson senior. His book is about “how he ended up in a federal prison in rural Louisiana, serving eighteen months for bank fraud. But it was no ordinary prison. The beautiful, isolated colony in Carville, Louisiana, was also home to the last people in the continental United States disfigured by leprosy.”
An uncomfortable premise on several fronts, yes, but a rich, rich experience, I assure you—just as I assure some 490+ incoming freshmen. White’s book is this year’s summer-reading selection for first-year students.
We will also simultaneously feature Sanctuary on the Davidson College Book Club online.
I learned of Sanctuary when my mom sent it to me the year it was published, 2009. Mom lives in DeKalb, Mississippi, a half a state away in one direction from White’s current home in Oxford, and a half a state away the other direction from his erstwhile Gulf Coast magazine-publishing concerns. Mom had noticed the mention of Maggie’s Davidson career in the book’s epilogue, so she sent it.
Actually, I think Mom would have sent this book along anyway. A language maven with a sharp eye for a good read, and a professional writer and editor herself, she shared the love of reading and writing with me long ago during regular Sunday trips to the Forsyth County, N.C. Public Library. Now that she’s more than 500 miles away, we continue to share bubble-wrapped books via U.S. Postal Service. There’s something satisfying about sharing the same physical book in real space and passing time, rather than just viewing versions of the same computer file through a cyberspacetime screenmatrix device, or something.
I was reminded of the importance of real space and real time this very afternoon when my friend and mentor Registrar and Professor of German and Humanities Hansford Epes ’61 [whose name I omitted to include here in the first iteration of this post—DOH!] sent me an article about teaching and learning, “What We Take With Us,” by M. Garrett Bauman.
In a superb meditation on the life of the mind, on literature, on teachers and on students, Bauman holds up as example one of his own first and best undergraduate teachers, Carter Daniel, Davidson Class of 1959 and now director of Business Communication Programs, Rutgers Business School.
“Perhaps teachers inspired us to enter the profession,” writes Bauman, himself a professor emeritus, “sophisticated, animated men and women who made us wish to be them and live a life like theirs. They seemed unattainably brilliant and confident; they owned new worlds and generously invited us in.
“For me, it was Carter Daniel, whose freshman year of teaching at Upsala College coincided with my freshman year as a student. He gave me Greek drama, Dante, and Cervantes and later Spenser, Donne, and Milton. He encouraged my crude writing, founded a campus writing society, played classical piano and advanced tennis, drew students into intense discussions in his office and his home. Tough-minded and engaged with ideas, Carter made college teaching seem like a worthy life.”
Even if you know you will never make it to the bottom of your stack of summer reading—who will?—you should read Bauman’s whole article.
And find a teacher of your own to thank.