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…

If You Fall…Get Back Up!

Rise + Hustle, by Mike Whitfield I’m no longer concerned with the oddities of commercial writing. Besides all the postmodern variations on story structure and purpose, I’ve reviewed a novel to be used for (other) business purposes, so I don’t blush at all to review Rise + Hustle, Mike Whitfield’s book about the promise and…

Alone In A Bitter World

Savage Country, by Robert Olmstead Olmstead’s title here says all that’s relevant here, but indulge me in a few details. Michael Coughlin has lost his family and wandered off the white man’s reservation into existential territory. He meets Elizabeth, his brother’s widowed wife, whom the brother has left destitute. There’s a strain of Americana in…

It’s not just me. I’m not being unnecessarily curmudgeon-y, if you please. I’ve long been bemoaning the abandonment of story – even the implied story – in literary fiction, but there are larger voices than mine saying it now. A recent article in Britain’s New Statesman, wonders at the dwindling of literary fiction among readers….

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…