Near the end of the quarter this past winter, the students in my graduate seminar and I were discussing my favorite books. As part of the conversation I expressed by chagrin about the fact that I don’t read much contemporary fiction, a lack that probably distinguishes me from most of my friends and colleagues. My graduate students, however, were not terribly surprised by this revelation. As one of them offered by way of explanation, “You’re so eighteenth century!”

It’s true that I love my period, but as a literature professor it is often awkward to admit how ignorant I am about contemporary literature. It can also lead to some embarrassment, even if only in my own mind. (I should note that I do read contemporary literature from time to time, just not as much as other people I know. I love, for example, Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate and Edwidge Dandicat’s The Dew Breaker. I also read contemporary GLBT lit.)

Case in point: last night my department (or at least the Creative Writing Program in my department) sponsored our annual Writers Harvest, a benefit for hunger relief. The program featured three writers who read from their own work and a short “interlude” of selections to be included in the first issue of the New Ohio Review (at least that’s my understanding of what these latter selections were).