This year I’ve asked the teachers in the SPF English Department to embark on an individualized professional development experience. Inspired by Heather Rocco’s work in Chatham, NJ (which you can read about here), my teachers have taken on a “Genius Hour” project (or 20% time which you can read more about here) during our designated time together. Teachers are (hopefully) engaging in a year long project that reignites a passion for English/Language Arts, helps them be a better teacher of reading and writing, or helps scratch a professional itch of some kind. In an effort to practice what I preach, my goal is to read more for fun and to begin blogging again. I’m aiming for one to two posts a week. Here is my first post in . . . a while.
I love the Nobel Prize. I love the idea of recognizing someone for their life’s body of work and I love the secrecy of the panel–the idea that no one knows who’s nominated or why, or just how close the vote was. (I don’t always love their choices ::cough Bob Dylan:: but that’s another story.)
In truth, I love most literary awards. I have very little time in my life to read books that I’m not going to enjoy, so I rely on awards and recommendations from trusted friends (and students!) to fill my TBR pile. Generally the Nobel Prize is awarded to someone I’ve never heard of, writing in a language I don’t speak. This is great. It means that non-American voices get some American airplay and that publishers start to recognize great work. But it can make the decision anti-climactic. It’s like when that movie you didn’t see wins an Oscar: it looked good, but it’s hard for you to judge for yourself.
Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize this year. I’ve read two of Ishiguro’s novels: Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. I taught the latter and I read the former as a high school student. When Ishiguro won, I decided to reread it to see if Remains of the Day still “held up” for me.
Truthfully, I don’t remember much about Remains of the Day. I don’t remember the ways in which it spoke to my 16 year old heart, or why I found its central character’s dilemma so compelling (even though I can remember literally no plot points). I just remember loving it, highlighting lines and phrases and whole paragraphs that resonated.
I still have my copy of Remains of the Day from 2002. It’s got my notes and highlights, some from my own reading some from Ms. Mulligan’s (excellent) AP English class. I’m going slowly as I reread, struggling to find time and motivation to get Ishiguro’s novel of manners into my hectic everyday life. But I’m enjoying reconnecting with a text that felt important to my formation and a pastime that I love.