Jose at MemeTherapy has put up one of his group interviews, in which a bunch of writers answer the same question. I answered several questions for him, and today's is about research. UnCommonwealth faves Terry Bisson and Catherine Shaffer join in the fun.
Today was my first day as an English major at the University of Kentucky. The classes on Baldwin and Chaucer were much larger than I expected, but I also expect that attendance will drop as time goes on. I'm also in a weekly poetry workshop that meets on Wednesday afternoons, but I don't expect to be writing much about that.
One thing that was kind of interesting, but has also led to some frustration; between classes I was reading Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" in the collection Coming to Meet the Man. Early in the story, when the narrator is talking about Sonny's situation with another character, a sort of wastrel from their youth (Sonny and the narrator are brothers if you haven't read the story). The guy says something to the effect that he thought Sonny was too smart to get in the trouble he's in, to "get hung."
The narrator replies: "I guess he thought so too," I said sharply, "and that's how he got hung. And now about you? [...]"
Okay, contextually that "now about you" can make sense, but it jangles. The obvious thing was that it's a typo--it should be "And how about you?" (italics mine). I happened to be in the library while I was reading this so I went an dug up the Summer 1957 issue of Partisan Review in which the story originally appeared and sure enough, it's "how" there.
I can't find an info on whether the stories in the collection are "corrected" or "the author's preferred text" or whatever, so now I have to decide whether or not to ask the professor--a Baldwin scholar natch--if that's the case. Which will make me look like a jackass to the other students but I honestly am, in fact, interested in variant texts and how they impact meaning and, y'know, crap like that.
I already know how fly-specky/nit-picky this is, you don't have to tell me.