a typical interaction between someone else and me about favorite books—>
PERSON: So, who is your favorite author?
ME: I can’t pick one favorite author. I have many favorites.
PERSON: Well, if you HAD to pick one, who would you pick?
ME: I CAN’T! There are too many books. Too many writers. There is so much good writing in the world.
PERSON: Just pick one.
ME: Would you ever demand that I choose a favorite child?
PERSON: Seriously. Just pick one.
ME (shrieking): I TOLD YOU. I CAN’T PICK JUST ONE!!! (At this point, I turn into a werewolf and devour everyone in sight.)
However, today, if you asked me who my favorite author was, I would, without hesitation say, “Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone.” (Winter’s Bone was made into a movie that starred Jennifer Lawrence pre-Hunger Games.)
Last week, I got it in my head that I wanted to tell Daniel Woodrell about the inspired work my students were doing after reading Winter’s Bone. I searched for and maybe even found his home address (but I wasn’t 100% sure). After some thought, I decided that would be creepy of me to send him a letter to his home anyway (and maybe a waste of time because it might not have even been the right David Woodrell), so I searched for an email address. Nothing came up for him, but when I searched “contact Daniel Woodrell”, I found his literary agent’s assistant’s email address and decided that this would be the most professional way to approach an author with whom I am personally unacquainted.
On Friday, I sent an email to David’s agent’s assistant that explained the project and provided a link for them to go take a look-see.
To give you some background, Winter’s Bone is about Ree Dolly, a 16-year-old girl taxed with looking after her mentally ill mother, and two young brothers, on next to nothing, after her dad goes out one day and doesn’t return. The family lives in the Missouri Ozarks and the action begins when the local sheriff rolls onto Ree’s property to inform her that her father put their house and land up for bail the last time he was arrested (for cooking meth). If he doesn’t show up for court, the house and land will be sold to the highest bidder and Ree and the rest of her family will be living in a cave. Ree has no choice but to go looking for her dad, and in doing so, must face family members who live very rough lives, by some very harsh rules, and one of those rules is that you best be minding your own business, if you know what’s good for you, girl <insert chest poke here> so this poses a challenge for someone who needs information.
In the assignment, the students found Dolly Family Rules either stated outright or inferred from characters’ dialogue and actions in the text. They each selected one rule and took a picture that somehow represented that rule. Then, using the Aviary app, they overlaid the text with the rules (or the text and the inferred rule) on the photo. They sent the finished products to me and I posted it to an Instagram account I created specifically for this purpose.
Today, I was very pleased and surprised to see that Daniel Woodrell sent us an email!
Today, I was very pleased and surprised to see that Daniel Woodrell sent us an email! He told us that he loved to know that his lonely words found companions in us. He also said that he likes the project and complimented my students’ photography. Then, he revealed that he spent some time in Nebraska back in the 70’s. He even made mention of Aksarben. Needless to say, this simple 6-sentence note that Daniel took the time to sent made ten students and one teacher very happy today. <Swoon.>
Here is my Contemporary Literature class’s Instagram account: DOLLY FAMILY RULES.