No surprise here: the acclaimed author -- a "critic, essayist, fiction writer, poet, and teacher" -- is more trick than treat. Watch out this Halloween for Knife Man wandering Carroll Gardens, and visit Homebodies this week to tour his office and library. As impressive as the book collection is his highly organized system: books are grouped mostly geographically by author; sub-genres of his specialties have their own sections; and books within each section are alphabetical by author. Horizontal and vertical filing is acceptable; he doesn't at all find the jumbled mix "unsightly."
I had the great fortune of studying with Phillip last semester at Bennington, where I'm pursuing an MFA in nonfiction writing. Phillip, a provocative skeptic and a scholar with the mission to perpetuate great literature, is what you might call a demanding teacher -- the best kind, of course, a student can hope for.
And as a former student who may still quiver in his presence, I cannot help, as I look at the photo below of him sitting in a chair in the living room, to feel somewhat of an insane pressure to compose these next blog posts as if they're being considered for entry into the great canon. Look at the confrontational way he's crossed his legs -- red pen in hand! Blame the stage fright, but I've nearly forgotten that during the innocuous moment when I took the picture, he was describing the comforts of the room, designed by his wife, Cheryl, and stroking the purring kitty that had jumped onto his armrest for a little affection. The red pens were all the way up on the third floor.
Up next, in canon-worthy writing, or perhaps more accurately in the kind of rushed writing that will allow me to finish a number of other deadlines, including one for school, is a tour of Phillip Lopate's library...