I just found this!
In Fall of 2011, I taught a Literature class. I was required to teach mostly out of a reader, but I also taught Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.
At the end, I got my students to tell me what texts from the reader they liked and disliked most. Here are the standout results from both categories:
A Visit from the Goon Squad (15)
Shirley Jackson – The Lottery (13)
Brian Doyle – Pop Art (10)
Jamaica Kincaid – Girl (10)
William Faulkner – A Rose for Emily (8)
Melville – Bartleby (14)
Jonathan Lethem – Super Goat Man (13)
Sophocles – Oedipus Rex (8)
Everyone who took me up on my offer to read a book for extra credit selected the same book off my list. David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day. They all loved it.
– This was a unique sample in that all the students were women. (Hard to say how this affected the results, though it’s always fun to speculate. Of the items listed above, only “Girl” speaks to a specifically feminine experience, and tied with “Girl” was “Pop Art,” which is about fatherhood. I do wonder if Lethem appeals a bit more to men than to women in aggregate, since his fiction so often deals with traditionally “boy” stuff like comic books.)
– It is also possible that part of why my class liked Egan’s book so much was that we all went together to see Egan read at Amherst College, and she was very real and charming. Maybe if they saw Melville read they’d have gotten into it more.
– It is funny to me that MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” made neither list, because a big chunk of my manuscript MEANWHILE is an autobiographical account of the day I taught this text, what we talked about, etc. I have thought about that day so much that it seems to me like the most important day of class I’ve ever taught. Subjectivity in motion.