Monday, March 8, 2010

The courtship of widow Sobeck - Joanna Higgins

Joanna Higgins- February 20, 1945

In an interview with Contemporary Authors – Higgins describes how she rediscovered writing, and in the excerpt below, her relationship with John Gardner.

A few months later, I learned that John Gardner, the writer, critic, and medieval scholar, was teaching writing at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where I'd done my doctoral work. My husband and I had been renting out our hillside farmhouse near there and were lonesome for those windy hills, the woods, the 'seasons.' I gave up a tenure-track teaching position, and we came back to start over again. When I overcame my fears enough to send a story to John Gardner and to ask to sit in on one of his fiction workshops, he--unfailingly, unstintingly generous with all young writers--consented. I studied informally with him for the next three years, eventually helping with the literary magazine, MSS, he'd started up again. John Gardner died in a motorcycle accident on September 14, 1982, on a warm, brilliant fall afternoon. The horror of that day nearly broke us--his students and friends. The only thing that helped at all, then, was knowing that we had to keep writing, to prove that his faith in us had not been misplaced.”

So we see once again Gardner using his position as the editor to push forward one of his students/friends.

I would think back in 1982, that the greater reading public would not have a clue that the two were friends – but to those in “the know”, I wonder what they made of the selection of this story.

I read this story before I knew of the relationship, and honestly, it didn’t do much for me. It was pleasant enough, but as a story to educate...well, perhaps I will have to wait a bit longer for the lesson to appear.

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