The secret lives of LU profs

Kayla Wilson

Coming to Lawrence from the warmer climes of Texas, California and Utah, Assistant Professor of English David McGlynn is the resident creative writer of the department. Among the many things on his plate at the moment — kids, teaching, swimming, writing — McGlynn is preparing to have his first book published.Titled “The End of the Straight and Narrow,” the collection of stories is slated for publication in the fall from Southern Methodist University Press. The stories stem from his experiences growing up in Texas, what he describes as the “landscape of adolescence.” Unsure as yet of where the book will be available, McGlynn says it will be available on Amazon.

McGlynn came upon writing and reading at a young age. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t care about it,” he said.

After experiencing a personal tragedy while in high school, he found himself spending more time alone, reading, writing and “trying to find something meaningful.” He explained that he “lives in a world of storytelling,” coming from a family where people were always telling stories, where he himself was always telling stories.

“It makes me think about the world I live in, which is why I read mostly contemporary literature. It’s about bridging gaps and making connections,” he said. Both of these concepts are central to the way he approaches literature and writing in the classroom.

Known for his somewhat confessional teaching style, McGlynn said of this practice, “I find those moments of connection and [try to] be in that experience. When I tell stories, I’m remembering experiences of trying to understand the world for myself.”

McGlynn is also working on a collection of nonfiction essays, “Rough Water,” which has been in the works for two years. Several of the stories have already been published and the project is over halfway complete, with McGlynn working rather slowly on one piece a term.

This slow and intense process “came from necessity,” after struggling to write an essay about “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” while an undergrad. After sitting down with his professor and working through a draft line by line, McGlynn realized he needed to completely rewrite it.

“I found I could only keep track if I went line by line,” McGlynn said. Eventually he began handwriting his own stories, explaining, “One day I just decided the computer was too needy.” He escaped to the library and ended up handwriting 200 pages. “It allowed me to really evaluate each and every word.”

Outside of his obvious interest in writing, McGlynn swims every morning in the rec center, claiming he “still has enough shape and chutzpah to keep up with the team.”

He also likes long walks and lying on the couch watching TV. Simply stated, he “will watch whatever.” He does have a clear favorite movie, however: “Jerry McGuire,” which he qualifies by making clear that he is not a huge Tom Cruise fan. He does have a very nice, long defense for his choice, which he would probably give with little to no prodding.

Another obvious interest is reading. “I don’t have a favorite book,” he said, “but I do have a few that I keep coming back to when thinking about my own work.” These favorites are: Walker Percy’s “The Moviegoer,” Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead,” Ron Carlson’s “Kind of Flying,” Andre Dubus’s “The Times Are Never So Bad,” and Flannery O’Connor’s “Complete Stories.”

“My other attentions are consumed by the boys,” he said, referring two his two sons: Galen and Hayden. McGlynn also enjoys playing with Thomas the Tank Engine and building with Legos.