Posted by Ed
Something I did not know: the novelist Jonathan Franzen is a 1981 graduate of my alma mater, Swarthmore College.
Franzen recently visited Swarthmore, giving both a casual talk and a more formal speech (that included a reading from his novel The Corrections). Here's a quick excerpt from the daily Swarthmore email newsletter's article on the visit:
When asked how Swat academics affected his creative expression, Franzen recalled the first paper he wrote for English professor Chuck James's class, which received a C+. He then discovered that good writing was hard work, and strove to avoid classes that required papers.
He also noted that there is a grand Swarthmore tradition of pretending knowledge, and that that skill is a useful one for novelists, who "need to pretend to know everything on the page."
On what to avoid as a young writer, Franzen advised Oprah and cigarettes.