Saturday, October 19, 2019

Joshua Davis Talk

Joshua Davis wrote Spare Parts, which I reviewed last year and which became the common reading for the university this year. As chair of the Common Reading Committee, I had the pleasure of having dinner with him and seeing him give a talk on campus this past week (big crowd, 700ish). He's very engaging, and had a message for students about how your career is not a linear thing. He told a great story about how on a lark he went to an arm wrestling competition to watch and was encouraged to participate. He paid the $20 entrance fee and promptly lost two matches. Since there were only four people in his weight, he came in fourth, which made him eligible to go to the world championships as an alternate. Since someone was on probation, he did, to Poland. He then told his neighbor about the adventure, and that person happened to be the Executive Editor of Wired. He was encouraged to make a pitch, and his journalism career began.

He gave us an update on the protagonists of the book, now adults, which like his book is neither entirely negative nor positive. He had never imagined the book would be so relevant this long. He wrote the book some years ago, and in 2013 remember that the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, and there was hope--not very high, but still--of some real legislation before House Republicans killed it.

If you haven't read Spare Parts, it is well worth your time. There is also a movie with some stars in it, which I have not seen but which Davis says is pretty good, though they Disneyfied it and ended with the competition rather than the struggles that continued afterward.


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