Pulpwood Queens May Bonus Book Club Selection

Thanks to Kathy Patrick for choosing Love on the Big Screen as a Pulpwood Queen May Bonus Book Club selection. It’s been great getting to know so many of the book club members. You are all passionate readers with big hearts, and I’m still holding onto all those hopeful vibes I picked up from you when it comes to your enthusiasm for literacy. First, I made you all a special video greeting that also previews some of the great pictures taken in Jefferson, Texas by Brooklyn-based photographer Natalie Brasington. Click on the video below to watch:

I’m also at work on a documentary film about my visit to Texas last January for Girlfriend Weekend. I’m calling it For the Love of Books, something that just popped into my head near the end of my weekend after watching everyone stuff their extra suitcases with books and as I saw book group after book group using literacy to help others. Yes, you ladies–and a few good men–have fun, but your devotion to literacy and to caring about people is what really inspired me.

If you do read Love on the Big Screen, you can find some book club discussion questions here.  It might be fun to see what you think of this teacher’s idea about conversation starters. Also, if you glance over to the right of this page, you’ll see that I’m selling some extra copies of the novel that have accumulated at my house. Sometimes when I do a conference or a book festival, too many books are ordered and when those go unsold, they get returned to the publisher. Since the burden on an indie press can get pretty tough, I’ve purchased some of these copies.  If you’re interested, you can purchase the book here through Pay Pal, I’ll write you a big ole thank you note inside the book, and then ship it off to you. I hope it’s okay to trouble you with mentioning that possibility. The book is available through the usual channels  including Kindle, Nook, and iPad.

I’ve already made plans to return to Jefferson next year with my Midwestern Gothic novel entitled Horseshoe.  For those of you who read Flannery O’Connor, I hope you’ll see some of the ways her “Misfit” fiction has influenced my writing. I’m also going to join those of you who are planning to come with Kathy to NYC this June. You can read more about the trip here.   Brooke Ivey is doing a lot of the planning, and I just found out I get to lead the charge into Strand Books, a store that claims over 18 miles of titles. I don’t really know what they mean by that, but I’ve been in the store and it takes a marathoner’s stamina to make it through even one of the floors.  By the way, Brooke’s mother Anita is a Pulpwood Queen!

I’m happy to interact with individual chapters of the Pulpwood Queens in lots of ways including perhaps a Skype visit or a special video that answers questions readers might have. I’m a native Indiana Hoosier, and so like David Letterman, perhaps I could do my own sort of version of reader mail. With another shot from Natalie, here’s to Texas and the Pulpwood Queens:

William Torgerson Love on the Big Screen Kathy Patrick Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend Book Club

photograph by Natalie Brasington

You can connect on Twitter here and Facebook here.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to being in touch.

Library Book Browsing Activity

Find the Book You Were Looking For

(or the one you didn’t know you were looking for)

Torg, Torgerson, St. John's University, Reading, Research, Writing, books, teaching

Yep, Young People Still Look at Books

The Activity:  (take notes in your daybook)

  1. Walk over to the library with someone you don’t know very well, and chat with them about their intellectual interests.  What did they find during the last library trip?  What do they think they might read and write about this semester?  Note your partner’s name and write down some of what they say to you.
  2. As we get in the hallways of the library, check out the signs on the wall that inform you what numbers (PN 1345  etc) are on what floor.  You can also check with me, or the staff of the library for help.
  3. You were to come to class with three call numbers for books in the Queens library that might interest you.  Try to find these books.
  4. As you find a book, be sure to check around the same shelf and the shelves close to your book to see if there is anything there that interests you.  This could be a section of the library that you return to again and again.  Write down the author and title of a book that is close to the book that you meant to find.  You’re going to spend the class reading and you’ll check out a book or two at the end of our time.  Be thinking about what books you might want to take with you.

Take Notes in Your Daybook that look something like this:

Book 1 Title and Author:__________________________________________________________________________

Book Close to Book 1 Title and Author:____________________________________________________________

  1. When you’re done, you should have written down the names of at least six books: the three books you were looking for and the book that looked interesting that was near the book you were looking for.
  2. Take books with you that you might want to read around in.  You don’t need to re-shelve these.  From what I understand, the library wants to get a sense of what books you are looking at.  There are carts placed around the library where you put the books when you are done looking at them.
  3. Sit down somewhere in the library and read around in the books and see what you find interesting.

What Floor Are the Writing Books On?


  1. For this week or next week, do a Reading For Writing (RFW) entry on a book that you check out from the library.  See the syllabus for a full description, but this means you’ll choose golden lines from the article.  Type up those lines in bold, and then free write after the quote sharing whatever the writing gets you thinking about.
  2. Somewhere in the piece, tell us about whom you visited with.
  3. Be sure to use the “son of citation” website (or something like it) to give the full MLA works cited entry at the bottom of your post.
  4. Copy and paste that works cited entry into your “Reading Bibliography” tab on your blog.
  5. Print out a copy of the entry for reading groups next Wednesday and bring your book or books to class next time.

Want the handout?  See the handout tab at TheTorg.Com


Homophobic, Chauvinistic, or Just an Inside Look?

Warning: Rated R Material.  Do you know Tosh from Comedy Central?  The first 13 pages of Wally Klam’s Sam the Cat and Other Stories had me feeling as if maybe Klam had channeled the comedian (or vice versa) for the narrator’s voice.  Yes, very funny, and yes, sometimes appalling.

Sam The Cat Wally Klam Tosh

Tosh From Comedy Central

I get that some people are addicted (or some other word) to having sex with as many people as possible, and I get that it’s eventually a very lonely lifestyle, but like a lot of other unhealthy habits (snorting lines of cocaine comes to mind) I don’t need to read hundreds of pages for this feature of a character to be established. Even if that’s all Matthew Klam’s book, Sam the Cat and Other Stories, was going to be (it is a lot more) it might have been worth reading anyway.

Klam can be irreverent in the voice of his characters.  He’ll give it to you straight, right from the mouth of some of the most sluttish (and what else?) men you’ve ever met.  Here’s the commentary of one character who suddenly finds himself sexually attracted to his girlfriend’s male friend:  “I made myself fuck Louise.  I didn’t want to—and she was the very picture of unconscious—but I had to…. Was I all of a sudden gay?  I went to sleep one night and woke up a homo?”  The voice of this particular character is the one who gives the collection its name.  “Sam the cat,” he tells us, “he bad and naughty.”

Prof. William Torg Torgerson  Wally Klam Sam the Cat

Sam The Cat and Other Stories

Beginning the second story, I was thinking maybe I was hearing from the same character.  Seeing as how I’d just read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, and that I’m in the middle of the publication of my own collection of overlapping stories, my mind has been stuck on looking hard for connections and making sense of them.  The narrators are different in each story.  This one’s in a slightly more serious relationship, and here he listens to his brother who speculates as to why he might be sterile:

“I smoked pot.”

“Pot doesn’t do anything.”

“Think about all those gay guys out there with good sperm who don’t even use it.”

“They use it.”

“How do you know?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Each story in the collection seems to contain a male narrator (except for the last one) who is in a more “serious” relationship with a woman.  We are taken from “Sam the Cat” on the prowl doing as many women as he can—perhaps as a way of proving to himself that he is NOT gay—all the way to a marriages and couples attending marriages.  The pages of this collection provide an uncensored peek into several male characters’ psyche, especially as pertaining to sexuality and emotional intimacy.  There’s also quite a bit about men not being able to perform sexually.  After all—as my wife had to point out to me (duh!)—there is a guy’s crotch front and center on the cover.