Dennis Cass Exposed!

Dennis CassDennis Cass (’90) is no stranger to Second Laird, from his time at Carleton to now as a visiting professor. Nityasya Belapurkar finds out for the Miscellany what Dennis’ life is like when he’s not teaching at Carleton.

1.) How does teaching at Carleton fit into the rest of your life? But wait, we don’t actually know very much about your life! What do you do when you aren’t teaching at Carleton?

When not at Carleton, you’ll find me high in the skies piloting my vintage Piper J-3 Cub. Dressed in pleated khakis, a WWII-era bomber jacket with shearling collar, and mirrored aviator sunglasses, I scan the Earth below with a steady gaze that is at once manly and sensitive. What’s that I spy? A child and his puppy in need of rescue? I am, as the kids say, on it! Then, after returning said child and puppy safety to their parents (or legal guardian), I nose my airplane back home where I can look forward to a night of freelance writing and editing.

2.) What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a novel that’s so secret that I myself don’t know what it’s about.

3.) What’s the most challenging and/or rewarding project that you’ve worked on?

See answer to Question #2.

4.) If you were the head of the department (which means you could do whatever you liked), what class would you want to teach?

All kidding aside, I would love to teach English 350: The Postcolonial Novel: Forms and Contexts. Speaking broadly, postcolonial literature tends to have everything I like in a book: stylistic pyrotechnics, formal experimentation, a sense of history, political heat and the sharing of untold stories. A book like Zadie Smith’s White Teeth teaches me about the world I live in, makes me rethink Dickens and is an absolute blast to read. On second thought I don’t want to be head of the department. Instead I want to be a student again so I can take Arnab’s class.

5.) You’re now in charge of The Miscellany summer reading list. Recommend five books that are either on your list, or think should be on ours.

H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
Slouching toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion
I am a Stranger Loop by Douglas Hofstadter
Go to a used bookstore, wander around for an hour reading bits of pieces of lots of books, then buy something that speaks to you in the moment by You

6.) Is being a writer nothing but being a professional liar? What does writing mean to you?

I’ve never met a writer who wasn’t deeply (x3) engaged with understanding and communicating the truth of the story. Now if you have to tell a few lies along the way…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *