| By Joe Vito Moubry |
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Professor Lauren Cobb’s book first book, Boulevard Women was recently published on December 1st. Cobb’s book centers around stories of three women who live on the Boulevard of Athens, Georgia: a teenage girl, a mid-aged widow, and a spencer.
Cobb, who lived in Athens for six years herself prior to moving to Bemidji, said how “I’m nostalgic about the time I spent in Georgia, and in a way, this book is my love letter to the south.” And her inspiration for her book came from living on the legendary Boulevard that the book centers around. Cobb would walk up and down the Boulevard, look at the houses on the walks and wonder about the lives of the people who live in the houses.
When Cobb moved to Bemidji and finished a different writing project was when she started on Boulevard Women. The book has 10 stories in which we see, as Cobb phrased it, “move through the lives of several ages and experiences” in which Cobb could “interrogate my own understanding of what growing up and growing old entail for contemporary women.”
The first story that Cobb wrote was about middle-aged widow. And then she wrote a story about an elderly spinster and then a story about a teenage girl. It took Cobb, as she put it, three years of solid work to write the book if she added up the time. But it was difficult for her to come up with an exact number to put on how long it took her to write the book since she was teaching full time and working different projects.
One of the challenges Cobb faced was how to write the dialogue of the characters. Mainly because she was trying to capture the voices of characters who where born and raised in the south, whose voices differ based on race, education, and socioeconomic class. Cobb believes that “There are about a thousand different ways to screw that up, particularly for a writer from California whose native language is Valley Girl.”
When asked about Cobb’s passion comes from, she said that “For as long as I can remember, writing has been the way I explore and express ideas and emotions. It helps me to better understand my life and the world I live in.” Cobb also said, when asked if teaching helped her to write her book, that she thinks “it’s actually the other way around. It is as a practicing writing writer that I learn the lessons I teach in the classroom, such as specific methods of handling difficulties in plotting or characterization.”
Although Cobb does teach creative writing as well as literature in the English department, she cannot foresee herself using her book in her classroom. As she put it, “I believe that students should feel comfortable voicing their honest criticism of the assigned books, and that could difficult with the author sitting in the room, and even more difficult if the author is also their professor.”