It’s Been A Long Time Coming

I grumble here quite a bit about the state of creative writing in the U.S., don’t I? And that sets me to considering what’s behind my grumpiness. One of my best finds in literature in the past fifteen years or so is that of South Africa. South Africa, you’d say? Yes. Check out this list,…

Standing Around In Search of a Story

  I remember reading somewhere that a story isn’t really a story if its characters aren’t sharply defined, and so when I began my first novel, I chipped away the dross of my characters before writing the first word. Not so with the novel being examined here, I imagine. Haslett’s project seems to be to…

The Nine Lives of Literature

  If you were to GOOGLE “Is literature dead?” you would find that question asked in quite a few forums. The consensus? No, literature is NOT dead, and the authors of the question give many reasons. Literature, while there is the ancient Aristotlean idea of conflict-rising action-climax-denouement, or falling action, the art form has proven…

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

NOTE: I wrote this little essay for the local paper, sure that they would make a big fuss over it and publish it. As high hopes sometimes go, they ignored it altogether and functionally refused to publish. So I’m sharing it here. It was 1967, I remember, and I was all but trembling with The…

Taming Literacy in This Age

Is the novel dead? Why do the remaining book readers today prefer nonfiction to fiction? When I had been working as an engineer for some 6-7 years, the Chief Structural Engineer called me in and said, “Bob, I need you to write a letter for me.” What he meant was a scolding letter to a…

The Age of the iPod is Over/The Verge

Time and technology march on, leaving us with drawers full of antiquated gadgets. Still, this is important news for readers and book marketers. The world is all about mobility now, mobile devices that can do more and more. Soon you’ll be able to read books, watch streaming TV and movies, in your car (don’t do this…

The Months and Moments of War

The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway   War novels have always seemed their best when written by a combatant who has been there, lived it. Galloway’s novel, however, shows that a good writer’s empathic instincts are sufficient, even though he/she hasn’t been there. The story of the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian wars,…