I don't have the residency to reflect on, so I'll write about what's on the writer's part of my mind. I like to read short things, so I picked up THE BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING. I like that Best American series, anyway, and wasn't disappointed.
Here are a few opening sentences from the essays: "'I can smell the sea from here,' said the prisoner." Or, "Chunking Mansion is the only place I have ever been where it is possible to buy a sexual aid, a bootleg Jay Chou CD, and a new, leather-bound Koran . . ." Or, "The throbbing music emanating from Le Carnivore Restaurant behind our hotel grows tinnier with each throbbing beat."
Hooks, right? Get your reader's attention right out of the gate. We've all done it. As teachers we've all told students to do it.
So I'm at the local library standing in front of the narrow YA shelf and hoping something will, cobra-like, dart out and stun me. Instead, I read first page after first page and my blood sugar drops. Instead of a voice I want to hear for two hundred pages, I hear the lieder of the craft book.
I think what bothers me is the calculating tone of the hook and - behind it - that calculating tone of the advice. It reminds me too much of those old books-on-dating that included pick-up lines.
God knows I'm easy, but I'm not that easy.