Last October, as part of the National Day of Writing, author, critic, and Oberlin College professor Anne Trubek visited The College of Saint Rose campus and read excerpts from her book, A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers’ Houses.
The National Council of Teachers of English sponsors the National Day on Writing annually to recognize “the significance of writing in our national life, to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives.” The October 18 program was sponsored by the Writing Across the Curriculum Committee at Saint Rose, Frequency North, and the School of Arts and Humanities.
Trubek is currently at work on the history of handwriting based on her essay “Handwriting is History,” which appeared in Best Technology Writing 2010. She has published articles in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, Dwell, GOOD, The Oxford American, The American Prospect, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications, and has appeared on NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” “The Diane Rehm Show” and “Talk of the Nation.” Trubek has written reviews for B&N Review, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, Paste, Jewish Review of Books, Salon and elsewhere.
A Skeptic’s Guide has been described as “remarkable book: part travelogue, part rant, part memoir, part literary analysis and urban history” as well as “relentlessly witty.”
“To completely dismiss the emotional relationship a reader has with authors,” Trubek writes,“is to risk ending up being cynical.” An unsentimental journey to the houses of Mark Twain, Jack London, Louisa May Alcott, Skeptic’s Guide courts the cynicism, the trinkets and tour guides and reproductions associated with writers’ houses, and returns with a newfound appreciation for readers’ emotional relationships with authors, their desire of many to take pilgrimages to old, drafty houses of dead people, all get closer with the books they love so much.
The College of Saint Rose pulled out the stops for this year’s Day on Writing. The Events and Activities Center was filled with writing-oriented stations throughout the day, complete with a “Writing Tools Display” that featured various writing implements, ink pots, quills, chalk, and keyboards (including Daniel Nester’s coveted IBM Model M), and six-word memoirs. Fifth graders from the Pine Hill School visited in the morning. This event happened thanks to the efforts of the College’s Writing Across the Curriculum Committee (WAC) committee.
All in all, another successful event, with hearty debates and discussion on everything from writer’s houses, clicky keyboards, the merits of handwriting, and how to preserve authors’ legacies. Plus there was free candy all day.
“Caitlin Brown from Communications and Jackie Amoroso from the Writing Center really outdid themselves,” Daniel Nester said, introducing Trubek. “It was like a carnival, the Oscars and kegs and eggs, except with pens and keyboards.”
Above: a video produced by The Saint Rose Chronicle.