Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Berkeley was, like, totally awesome

Well, it was. And that I find myself reduced to Valleyspeak to convey its general excellence--brilliant, accessible faculty; brilliant, friendly classmates; and, you know, the actual town of Berkeley itself, not to mention its proximity to San Francisco--should say something that my list of superlatives doesn't and can't really communicate. By the time I left, there was talk of an interdisciplinary history of the book reading group established with the Townsend Center's funds and any concerns about constantly battling the system to do work in Russian and French literature or in entirely different disciplines altogether had been put entirely to rest. Nobody made me feel the least bit bad about being interested in seventeen different things, and it turns out that roughly 80 percent of the other students write or want to write fiction and aren't particularly afraid to admit it--and one of them even got something published. Even my least favorite event of the weekend--a large and incoherent house party at which nothing was said and nothing was heard--gave off a strong whiff of the collegiality of the graduate students. (Was it the pink lighted punch fountain? Probably.) As per usual, I took my sweet time at Moe's and came home with quite the cache of lovelies, including Bakhtin on Dostoevsky and the first volume of Boyd's Nabokov biography (I bought the second last time I was there). I hesitated over the double set of Moretti's novel anthology, but ultimately returned it to the shelf because of my backpack's space constraints. Later, as I was hiking up a very steep hill to the Berkeley Rose Garden and a view of the sunset over the Bay, I realized I'd made the right decision, as each volume is 700 pages or something like that.

So, in summary: at least seven or eight faculty members with whom to work, the best place in the U.S. to live, a very decent fellowship, classmates who won't cut your throat while you sleep, and the opportunity to work on more or less anything...yeah, Berkeley WAS, like, totally awesome.

Posted by Shannon Chamberlain @ 11:11 AM