Friday, April 3, 2015

Judith Claire Mitchell

Judith Claire Mitchell is the author of the novels The Last Day of the War and A Reunion of Ghosts. She teaches undergraduate and graduate fiction workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is a professor of English and the director of the MFA program in creative writing. She has received grants and fellowships from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and Bread Loaf, among others. She lives in Madison with her husband, the artist Don Friedlich, and Josie the West Highland White Terrier.

Last month I asked the author about what she was reading. Mitchell's reply:
Mostly what I read are short stories and novels in draft form by undergraduates and graduate students. This is a pleasure, but a different kind of pleasure from reading actual published books. Recently, however, I did manage to get through two published books, one a novel and the other a biography.

First, the novel: I’d been hearing lots about the British author Sarah Waters so I got hold of her latest, The Paying Guests, without knowing a thing about it. It turned out to be a riveting story set in the 1920s about murder and love affairs and, equally as interesting, domestic life after World War One. It was an intense read, gripping and rapidly paced, with a lot of food for thought, particularly about the way lesbians had to navigate their world back then, but while it was definitely a page-turner, there was a satisfying balance between plot and characterizations, and I appreciated the larger story of how we adjust (or fail to adjust) to the world that seems to change too slowly for some of us and too rapidly for others.

I also plowed through John Lahr’s biography of Tennessee Williams. I will read anything John Lahr writes and I’m fascinated by the plays of Tennessee Williams as well as by the way artists with enormous egos are able to function in the world, so, although it was long, I enjoyed it from start to finish. My one problem with biographies, though, is that you inevitably wind up getting attached to the main characters, and then they always go and die in the end. In the case of Tennessee Williams, however, I think it was a miracle he didn’t die in the middle.
Visit Judith Claire Mitchell's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Judith Claire Mitchell & Josie.

The Page 69 Test: A Reunion of Ghosts.

--Marshal Zeringue