Saturday, January 29, 2011

John McMillian

John McMillian is an assistant professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he specializes in studying 20th century social movements and the Vietnam War Era. His new book is Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America.

Early this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
It’s an unusual time to be answering this question. I now teach at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, and we’ve just finished up our winter break, which was almost a month long. And I had such big hopes for all the reading I wanted to accomplish during that period! Even during the semester, when I’m teaching full-time, I still manage to consume a good amount of media: the New York Times (daily), and my favorite magazines: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Harper’s (which has just gotten better now that Thomas Frank is a regular columnist). I also read web magazines like Slate and Salon, and I’m a devoted follower The Daily Dish, by far my favorite blog. But during most semesters, I rarely manage to steal enough time to read whole books just for pleasure.

In early December, however, while looking forward to my break, I ordered a box of books from, and I was excited about all of them: Keith Richards’s, Life, Jill Lepore’s The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History, Edmund White’s memoir City Boy: My Life In New York During the 1960s and 70s, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and two novels: Thomas McGuane’s Driving on the Rim and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

I’m chagrined to admit that the only one of these books that I’ve completely finished is Keith Richards’s autobiography. But at least I finished it in a memorable way! On New Year’s Eve, I stayed in by myself, and read about the last 250 pages in one long sitting, while sipping from a bottle of wine. My reading was punctuated by the sounds of people in my neighborhood yelling and setting off fireworks, and it was interrupted by wonderful phone calls from a couple old friends. I finally closed the cover and went to bed at about 1:00 a.m. And I had a really lovely time that night. I think I’m going to make it a New Year’s Eve tradition.
Visit John McMillian's website, and learn more about his book at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Smoking Typewriters.

--Marshal Zeringue