I decided to post early today (partially in lieu of avoiding my most hated chore–cleaning the bathroom but mostly) because I finished reading Michael Parker’s If You Want Me to Stay.
This week I have completed quite a few books I had in progress, but I only really post about ones that I felt a connection to.
I’m not sure if I would really call this a review but more a response and a summary of myself as related to the book.
I first met Michael Parker (well met is probably a strong word as I will explain) when he came to speak to a few of my classes in high school. I remember him reading portions of his short stories to us in at least my 9th grade Creative Writing class and I also think my 10th grade American Lit class, but of the 2nd I can’t be completely sure. At the time he was writer-in-residence (I believe) at the local community college–College of the Albemarle. We were so impressed to be in the presence of a real writer. I was too shy, of course, to have ever actually spoken to him but his visits stuck with me. His visits to class would have been around 89-91 at the latest.
When I went away to college in 1993, Michael Parker’s name came up again. Here he was now teaching at UNCG! I picked up his novel “Hello Down There” which, of great fun, has references to the Eastern NC setting where I grew up. I enjoyed that novel but I never had the opportunity to have a class with Parker while at UNCG. I think he mainly teaches in the MFA program. I do remember writing a note about how much I liked the novel and putting it under his office door like I was some kind of strange fan. Probably good I haven’t met him!
I picked up this novel at the Spring NC Writer’s Conference fully intending to get it signed but I didn’t stay for the whole conference. Look how long it took me to get to the book! It was not disappointing. As with his other novel that I have read, there is a strong narrator’s voice and wonderful language choices. There is something funny within this sad story of youth and family dysfunction. I wish I had kept up with the author’s career more because now, while searching for a bio, I realize he has short story collections as well as other novels. Sigh. More books to buy!
Now I can add into my pile of things to read one I have really been wanting to get to The Traveling Disease by Susan Woodring which I bought quite a few months ago. I recall the weather was warm. She is a Queens Alumni and a super nice person. Double good reasons to give this one a read!