Columbia or prison: similarities and differences?

Terry Gross’ interview with Scott Spencer (of A Man in the Woods) notes that the author has “taught fiction writing at Columbia University, and in prison” (1:10; I think she says “in prison,” although it might be “at prisons”). The tone sounds like this sort of trajectory is completely normal, like a sandwich and soup. To me, it invites questions:

  • Can I be the only one who finds the juxtaposition of those two fine American institutions curious or notable?
  • How many writers or professors have taught at an Ivy League school and a penal facility?
  • Is teaching at the one pretty much like teaching at the other?
  • If you’ve currently got a gig at a prison, how do you make the transition to Columbia? I assume relatively few people want to make the opposite leap.

Two public-service announcements: Charles Bock and Clearwire

* I saw Charles Bock last night, and though I don’t have time to write in full about the experience, I will say that you should see him if you can. The rest of his tour will only take him to California, Massachusetts, and New York. As if the solid novel, Little Children, and fun Q & A aren’t enough, Bock also gives away swag, including a custom, metallic poster drawn by Chuck Sperry. Alas, I didn’t win one.

Here’s a link to an NPR story on Bock.

* In a rare bit of non-book related news, I have to issue a warning: if you’re thinking about saving $20 a month on Internet access through the aptly named Clearwire, don’t. I say “aptly,” though I mean that rather than having a “clear” meaning “free of any obstructions or unwanted” connection, you’ll have a “clear” as in “frequently does not exist” connection. I made the mistake of ditching cable only to find that Clearwire’s transfer rates in the middle of Seattle, where their coverage is supposed to be phenomenally good, are awful—and often border on dial-up.

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