October 2013 English Major of the Month
Oliver ErtemanHometown: Mills Valley, CA
Year in school: Senior
What are a couple of your favorite books?|
When I think of a book, a real novel, I think of Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter. It's very definitive of the way I think about novels, and to me seems linked to the word. I really love Raymond Carver's short stories, almost all of them, but especially "Why Don't You Dance?" in Where I'm Calling From and at least one other collection, I think.
Do you have any minors, or any other fields of interest other than English?
I am also a French major and will most likely declare a minor in creative writing. In many ways, my studies seem to blend together, but English is increasingly my main focus.
What's your guilty pleasure book, if you have one.
I try to avoid guilt.
And what book has moved you the most?
There are parts of Ulysses that move me more than almost anything else, feeling so close and sympathetic for Poldy Bloom. And there are parts of Ulysses that I hate more than almost anything else. The Sound and the Fury is another book that had an incredible emotional impact on me. Finally, Play It As It Lays, as harsh and brutal as it is, hits home.
Is there anything you're looking forward to currently?
I'm looking forward to finishing The Dream Songs, and I think I'm looking forward to Yeezus Part 2.
What was one of your favorite experiences as an English major?
Honestly, one of my favorite experiences as an English major was taking Literary Interpretation with John Melillo.
What are a few of your favorite words?
The word "dolt" really tickles me. I like "spare" and "scenario."
Do you have any unpopular literary opinions that you'd never admit to another?
Well, I have one or two, but I'm not going to share them.
What do you think of the neglect of the humanities in the U.S. education system?
The neglect of the humanities makes me very sad. To me, it's indicative of a system of values and an economy that belong to a very damaged country, and not one of so much excess. It seems depressing to me that the trend and the rational decision is to basically start career training at 17 (not that it's wrong to do that, but that almost everyone feels the need to do so, as far as I can tell, is concerning).
One piece of advice to offer to prospective English majors out there?
Have fun, and don't expect to emerge from your classes with tangible skills. And have fun and do your reading.