Ron Carlson Writes a Story

I hold Mr. Carlson in highest of esteem. I had one class and one workshop with him, back in my university days. I remember two points quite clearly. One, he was impressed with one of my stories, and the second point?

It was one of his effortless yet labored points about letting the character speak.

I was in the local library, idly perusing, and I happened upon a slim volume called Ron Carlson Writes a Story. I skimmed through the volume, recalling material from more than 20 years ago.

His voice came through clear enough, and that volume was like a class, all over again. Much of Retrograde Venus is about visiting a former love. Another, perhaps more influential teacher, he once suggested that every writer tells the same story, over and over. When I skimmed through Carlson’s 2007 text, I kept hearing that. Over and over. Same teaching, here, 20+ years later.

My first library fascination was as a child, I’d guess 2nd grade. The university library was huge, and as an earlier adopter, I could dial in with a modem to research the card catalog.

In San Antonio, take the bus to the library, downtown, and it’s mostly me with indigents and local itinerant types. The first striking visual is the library’s design and tamale red color. Either you love it or hate it. I love it.

With fast-approaching triple digit weather, I’m warming to the idea of hiding in the library, one day a week.

Book discoveries like this one are too few, otherwise.

I finished it in an afternoon and put it back in the stacks.

Seems like some people, do indeed, tell the same story, over and over.

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