Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Report from MLA

Yesterday, Modern Language Association's annual meeting in San Francisco ended at 1 pm. A dash to the airport got me on the 3:25 pm to JFK. After a 35-minute wait for my luggage and a taxi ride with a driver who thought Inwood was in the Bronx, I walked in the door at 1:30 am!

MLA keeps promising to move the meeting to a less holiday-busting time--but it hasn't happened yet.

8100 attended--and the 50 degree weather seemed to lift everybody's spirits.

Our most popular title in the booth was The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction edited by Joyce Carol Oates and Christopher R. Beha. Other books of interest were Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer, The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany, and The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon.
One professor told me that he makes a deal with his students: If they buy a copy of Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold, he will refund their money if they don't like it. Many students have bought a copy--but the professor hasn't had to reimburse anybody.
Now, MLA is a smart and polite group, but one annoying thing happened over and over again. Why would groups of Ph.D.s cluster at the foot of the down escalator to chat and chat while everybody else had to stumble around them?

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