Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I like the fact that my nephew Alex has chosen Comparative Literature for his major at Brown. It reminded me of how close I came to attending Brown myself: it was one of three schools that accepted me for graduate studies in Comp Lit back in 1988 (the other two being Berkeley and Penn; I ended up at Penn). Ed Ahearn of Brown called me to make the offer; at one point in our conversation, he politely asked whether I had heard from anyone else already. I admitted that I had heard from Penn, and he was not surprised: he said he could always tell when potential grad students had already heard from another school, because they were less openly excited, more matter of fact.

All this took place 20 years ago, I realized, and I thought of other things that happened in 1988. In August, I was in Boulder, and I bought Philip Levine's "A Walk with Tom Jefferson"—I remember that because it was the same day that Alex (the nephew mentioned above) was born!

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