A Free Life, by Ha Jin

It occurred as I opened this book, and realizing Ha Jin was now writing about America, that his work would lose some of its sheen. To this reader, it has. It’s easy to excuse facile, even clumsy prose when reading about a country that seems as exotic as China apparently is to Americans. When on […]

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Badlands, by Cynthia Reeves

Badlands is the 2006 winner of the Miami University Press Novella Contest, and it’s easy to see why it won. Cynthia Reeves has created a novella with an almost poetic sensibility, one that—as is the literary vogue these days—melds characters, bends time, and creates an inevitable contrast between one’s inner self and how one expresses […]

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A Good Day

Sitting at my computer this morning, as always, trying to hone my skills and pound out a piece of historical fiction, and guess what happens? I get a call from a lady from the North Carolina Writers Network: "Did you write a piece called Grandpa Tom's Cane for the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Contest?" "Um, […]

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Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson

Tree Of Smoke, by Denis Johnson I suppose when I opened this 2007 National Book Award winning tome of 614 pages I was expecting a panorama on the order of War and Peace. After all, it does take time to piece together the ragged fragments of a national trauma such as Vietnam. And it has […]

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Litmag Recap

To end the litmag series’ first edition, I thought I’d better amplify on some of the issues raised, and some I haven’t. 1 – Pay attention to whether a litmag favors first person or third person stories. However, the tendency now is to favor other things, such as thematic consistency, or stories and essays regarding […]

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Litmag 3 – Epiphany

Before taking on the last litmag of this first-of series, I should at least offer a disclaimer regarding litmags on the Net. Because of the costs alluded to last week, print litmags are slowly turning to the Net. There are costs to be sure, but hardly the cost in paper, printing, distribution, and postage that […]

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