Sunday, July 8, 2012

Old Friends

Cover of "Surface Tension"
Cover of Surface Tension
I settled into bed last night and opened Christine Kling's Surface Tension on my Kindle, looking forward to starting a new story. To my amazement, there in the Acknowledgements was a familiar name: Lynne Barrett.

Lynne had the apartment next to mine when she was working on her MFA at UNC-Greensboro, back in the mid-70s. I remember encouraging her to submit some of the stories she'd thrown in a drawer, and she offered me encouragement of a different kind. I got a bad grade on a psych paper, and Lynne accompanied me to the college book store where she directed my purchase of Strunk & White's Elements of Style and Fowler's Usage. She instructed me to read them cover to cover. I can't say I ever completed that assignment, but I did use them both heavily for the rest of my undergrad career, and I never got another grade like that--not for the writing, anyway.

I still have both tattered, yellowed copies.

After graduation, Lynne went off to Pittsburgh to teach creative writing at Carnegie-Mellon. I had an ex-roomie living up there for a while, too, and so saw Lynne again at least once, but after that we lost touch. Then, a year or so ago, when I was looking for an old story of hers, I found her on the 'net, writing and teaching in Florida. She even has a Wikipedia entry.

It was cool to see a student acknowledge her in the same sentence with James W. Hall and Les Standiford. I knew her when.

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