The Block Island Times

Pat Bowlby, a memorable student

By J. V. Houlihan, Jr. | Dec 16, 2012

I taught Pat in his Freshman year at Narragansett High School. He studied Literature and Theatre with me and I mentored him in his Senior year; he wrote a screenplay for his final project. It was an adaptation of James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and he did a great job. These days, we meet in coffee shops in town to stay in touch or sometimes Pat comes down to the ferry dock; he did today.

      We usually talk about writing, and how his classes are going at RIC. We always talk about theatre and films, always did. Pat loves films by Billy Wilder, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. We discuss the  story and character arcs of Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire and Dexter. He told me also, about his recent studies of the "Red Scare" period in Hollywood. Pat is building an incredible film foundation in his studies outside of his college classes, he's what I'd call an aggressive learner.

        Usually when we talk, I'll ask him what he's reading(I'll always have a couple of titles for him to read). Today Pat said he just read this book called The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I was impressed. Islander Ned Phillips gave me this book two years ago, and the book blew me away. Diaz, a Dominican, is one of America's most engaging writers today. He won a Pulitzer for Fiction and teaches at MIT. What I love about Pat, is that I never know what he's grinding out in that head of his. I was very impressed that he read Diaz, and immediately told him to read Thomas Mcguane's Driving on the Rim. This novel will keep him pinned down and focused; Mcguane is a master storyteller but not an easy read. Pat was game to read him, just as he game to read whatever I threw at him as a student of mine.

         Pat told me that during his semester break he was going to write a screenplay and he'd let me read it. He also promised to read Mcguane, and said he'd drop some films off at our house that he insists I should see. Our roles are reversing, Pat is informing me now, and that is why he is a memorable student. Finally, Pat Bowlby writes film reviews, check his blog for more information: http:/


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