Support us with Kachingle!
April 19, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Doug Hunt, associate professor emeritus in MU’s English Department, enjoys books that take the reader on a journey. To Hunt, authors such as Alice Hunter do a tremendous job revealing the human element he so desperately craves in literature. Hunt explains that the writer should embark on a journey, and his or her duty is to take the reader along for the ride.
What Hunt loves most about reading the current books on his nightstand are the short stories because they get you to a different world fast.
The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed by John McPhee
This is a nonfiction short read that tells the story of the Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, what was to be the world’s fastest, lightest aircraft, and its unfortunate failure to launch. Hunt finds himself amused at McPhee’s comedic writing. Although the book is a short read, it’s filled with details of each character’s attachment to the failed, blimp-like flying machine. As whimsical as the story reads, one might think it’s fictional.
“As with all his books, the writing is spectacular,” Hunt says. “But McPhee is possibly the greatest nonfiction writer of our time.”
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
In hot, colorful New Orleans, full of rich culture and a history that mixes all of the senses with food and music, Gaines sets the stage for life lessons. He teaches tolerance and the Jim Crow laws that worked against it. Gaines was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his vivid storytelling and ultimately, for characters who, like us, are constantly faced with difficult decisions in a complicated world.
“This book poses the fundamental question: Do we take on the world or run away to a place where we can be happy?” Hunt says. “(Gaines) answers this question through exploration of the human experience.”
Hunt explains that though the setting is in a different time and place, readers might be faced with these same questions in their own lives.
Selected Stories by Nadine Gordimer
Selected Stories compiles several short stories written during the South African apartheid by showcasing a human experience that is otherwise foreign to Western society. In 31 compelling stories, Gordimer speaks for Africa, for its people and for its complex problems involving war and genocide. With wit and respect, Gordimer teaches readers about racism and its deep-seeded roots in Africa and around the world.
“The South African apartheid was so complex,” Hunt says. “She looks at it from different angles and makes it understandable.”