everything that rises must converge
LOIS: You look really solemn.
ME: Eh, I’m just frustrated. I’ve started two novels in the past hour, and they were both terrible.
LOIS: Write a novel yourself.
ME: I am, that’s the problem.
LOIS: Then pick out somebody with a good style, because that’s how your book will sound. That’s always been true, even when you were young. Especially if you were reading Sherlock Holmes.
ME: Right, which is why I can’t be reading a novel where somebody says, ‘Other people knew him as Lionel. I knew him as Dad.’ Or a novel about how much people at dinner parties hate each other.
LOIS: Is there anything you actually like?
ME: The Louise Erdrich book is great. It’s just about growing up on a reservation.
LOIS: I don’t know it. What’s she famous for?
ME: Spending her MacArthur genius grant almost entirely on cocaine. Actually all the National Book Award winners were great this year. The book about India, the poems by David Ferry–
LOIS: DAVID FERRY?
ME: Yeah. I told you about him. The Horace translator. He gave me a way into the world of those poems.
LOIS: I had him. He was a teacher of mine.
ME: OK. Except no, he wasn’t. He’s a Horace guy. This new one is his own poems.
LOIS: David Ferry, look it up. He was my professor at Wellesley. He liked my stuff. He let us do anything we needed — we missed deadlines, couldn’t finish our work — so we could organize for the anti-war movement on campus. He and a couple other folks. They supported us the whole way.
From 1952 until his retirement in 1989, David Ferry taught at Wellesley College where he was, for many years, the chairman of the English Department. He now holds the title Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley.
…Ferry is a recipient of the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award [for The Epistles of Horace].
…In 2012, Ferry was awarded the National Book Award for Poetry for his book Bewilderment.