She is the editor of Made With Words, a prose miscellany by May Swenson and has written the Introduction and Notes for Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. She received her Ph.D. from New York University, her M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and her B.A. from Wheaton College. Forthcoming work includes an opera libretto for a new opera commissioned by Seattle Opera (music by Daron Hagen, story by Stephen Wadsworth), entitled Amelia, scheduled to premiere in 2010, and a new book of poems, Russian Tortoise. McFall teaches at Hunter College.
A couple of weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I've been reading On Kindness (FSG, 2009) by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor, a very readable, thought-provoking 114 page essay on the history of kindness and its place in our culture today. Written by a psychoanalyst and an historian, the book shows that while kindness has historically been essential to the Western idea of the Good Life, we are ambivalent about it in our own age of self-interest. The authors remind us of the reasons we need to embrace kindness for our children and ourselves since it is the key to our community and humanity. They draw on fascinating sources, without ever being pedantic or moralizing.Read a poem from Russian Tortoise and learn more about the opera Amelia.
I am also reading (or reading through since it is a large, companionable book) The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present (Norton, 2010), edited by Peter Constantine, Rachel Hadas, Edmund Keeley, and Karen Van Dyck, with an Introduction by Robert Hass. This is an indispensable anthology for anyone interested in classical Greek poetry, contemporary Greek poetry, and everything in between. The book is comprehensive and pleasurable to read; it should be a resource in everyone's personal library.
Finally, I have just started Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War (Grove, 2010) by Karl Marlantes.It is a big, sprawling, compelling novel written by a decorated Marine combat veteran about Bravo company and its soldiers on the front line of war.
Visit Gardner McFall's Hunter College faculty webpage.