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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Blast from the Past

Had dinner with Patty McNair last night at ClearHead (great veg rest … best marsala chai in town). I was Patty’s student at CCC in Fiction Writing, then later her colleague when I taught for 3 yrs there. She has come to Prague for several summers, conducting a writing program with CCC students; a five-week stay and lots of out-of-town trips.

The other night she invited me to the group’s final reading and farewell party. We stayed out till 3a.m. partying. Great young people with sharp, creative minds. I miss being around students, watching their writing grow, listening to them look into the future.

So Patty and I had this night’s dinner alone to catch up (tens years since I was last in Chicago). We’re both yet writing, of course, and always working toward that great american novel (more or less). She told me how CCC has changed into a more “white kid” school, drawing many more suburban kids these days than in the past, when I schooled/taught there. That’s a shame, I think, because the diversity of experience (black/white/ Latin/etc/ youner-older/foreign/etc) had made classes far richer than the all-too-common lives that suburban kids live.

Anyway, Patty looks great, is enjoying life, and we’re planning on meeting next year when she’s about Prague. She suggested the program could have me as a guest speaker, along the lines of “career night” (living & working abroad with those great Fiction Writing skills learned lo those many years ago at CCC). Perhaps I’ll have my novel in print by then, which could open all sorts of speaking possibilities.

Funnily enough, Patty and her husband now own a little cottage in Mt Carroll, in Northwest Illinois. Mt Carroll is a smaller version of Apple Canyon Lake, where the Beyer clan has been retreating from Chicago on weekends since 1969. Patty uses her cabin as that same getaway, and writer’s colony. It was great to see her, and in Prague of all places, and was easy to fall in talking, reminiscing, bitching about US politics, and of course dancing about the writing game. Cheers, Patty.

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