Anna Cabe ’13
Major: English Literature-Creative Writing
Do you have any special areas of interest, academic or otherwise?
My particular academic interests are English literature and ethnic studies, particularly Asian-American studies. In my own creative and academic work, I tend to explore the intersectionality of identities, especially race and gender. I’m also quite fond of history, art history, political science, women’s studies, religious studies, and much more, i.e, I’m a classic liberal arts student.
My true passion, though, is writing, in the nonfiction and fiction genres. Someday, I hope to publish a book and be a working writer.
What are your favorite resources at McCain Library?
I really love having free access to Project Muse and JSTOR for my research, but when I’m relaxing or need cultural context for various projects, I’m enraptured with the huge movie collection. Since coming to Agnes, I’ve really become more cinematically literate, and my taste in movies has become more cosmopolitan. Of course, in my rare moments of free time, you can always find me in the courtyard or the browsing section with a hardback!
Do you enjoy reading? How would you describe yourself as a reader?
Yes! I like to consider myself open-minded in my tastes, but I’ll admit that my busy schedule is forcing me to be more choosy. For instance, in the past, I used to unwind with cheesy romance novels and thrillers, but now, there’s too many bad books to wade through in both genres for me to risk picking one up without glowing recommendations.
What kind of books to you like to read outside of your classwork?
I read a ton of fiction and nonfiction and some poetry. My favorite genres are YA, memoirs, fantasy, magical realism, and contemporary realistic literature. I’m also becoming really interested in long-form graphic works. I’m visually oriented so having pictures with text is very pleasing.
What books do you recommend as must-reads?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It really changed my ideas of what “magic” in books could mean and how it can be deployed to make powerful cultural, social and political critiques. Anything by Toni Morrison is wonderful. I read The Bluest Eye too young but yet, it was also the right time, because it really was empowering to read something so brilliant by a woman of color. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter upends all expectations of traditional fairy tales. Ann Patchett‘s Bel Canto is about art and love and connection across unspeakable differences (as well as terrorists taking a bunch of people hostage after an operatic performance) and really profoundly shook my idea of what fiction can be. The Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin is just freaking awesome with masterful plotting and memorable characters. Also, Georgette Heyer is fantastic if you love Jane Austen and need more witty Regency dandies and sassy young ladies in your life without any sappy nonsense.
What kind of movies do you enjoy watching?
I have a fondness for films with fantastical and action elements and animated films. Thanks to my mother, I also love classic Hollywood, weepy melodramas, musicals, screwball comedies, and all. I’ve been exploring more indie and arthouse films, but I’ve realized I really like plots and fully developed characters and have little patience for whiny people doing nothing but talking. Also, I love foreign films because I find the alienating experience of not understanding the language but relying on subtitles to be strangely soothing.
Are there any movies you recommend?
I recently watched Vertigo and was really entranced by its exploration of the male gaze. Any movie by Charlie Kaufman is worth catching, especially Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for depicting a complex relationship falling apart (and Jim Carrey can act!). The Princess Bride makes me happy with its endless quotability. The Lordof theRings is. Just. Awesome. And. Needs. To. Be. Watched. Spirited Away, though, is my favorite of all. It’s a truly Japanese film that’s also universal. The animation is stunning; its creativity is astonishing. Every time I watch it, I catch a new detail. Yet, all this careful nuance is packaged in a deceptively simple coming-of-age tale. It’s sheer perfection.
Do you have any memorable stories about reading that you can share?
I clearly remember struggling with reading when I was a kid. My grandmother forced me to practice writing and letters with exercise books and flashcards, and I don’t think those helped me nurture a passion for reading. At all. However, when I was in kindergarten, I discovered I was one of the few kids who really struggled to read, and I think the shame spurred me to improve. Soon, I discovered that it was kind of fun, and once I hit Nancy Drew and The Babysitters’ Club, I was zipping forward.