I had seminar with James McManus. He's taught at school of the art institute in chicago for about twenty-five years. His student roster includes David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell. Jimbosweetness, what he prefers to be called. Joyce scholar. Everything we read received sentence level attention. He's a tediously good reader. Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, a few of the Sedaris series, Johnson's Jesus' Son, Lorrie Moore's Birds of America, and of course all of RayCarver's work, some Robert Coover, Obama's bio.
Last three classes were for workshop. Instead of reading Barack Obama's text we'd read our own. I think he said to one of the guys after a read, "Wow, you really like Saunders, don't you? Well, when you have coffee with him tell him Dybek and I want our money." Kinda things he'd say. He'd recently won bundles o'cash at the highstakes thing in Vegas, then that book whatitsname came out. He's got a Slow-play and a good bluff, but tends to play his hands conservatively.
Scary putting work on table in that class. Ended up on the flight with him to Las Vegas, my story that is, and he'd said, "guess I'll like it depending on how good I do down there." He enjoyed the piece though he'd blown 30 large. Asked how my twentieth draft was going, and wanted to know why a Finish man was buried under the porch instead of a Finnish man thought I should include more rags if he was a Finish man. Also asked a few other things that weren't jokey-'oops, I'm stupid'-editing things, and helped me polish the piece to a shine.
Jimbosweetness always asked how our lives were going, what our plans were and made sure to be a jackass when jackassery was called for.