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…

The Informality of Maine

The State We’re In – Maine Stories, by Ann Beattie – – Some Analysis This book is the last of a trilogy of short fiction collections meant to launch me into my own set of stories – upgraded, of course. It’s probably the most interesting, and the most banal, but I’ll get to that in…

Seeing Maine From The Inside In

The State We’re In – Maine Stories, by Ann Beattie Ann Beattie is known primarily for her short story collections. She’s won numerous awards, and her reputation in this short specialty of fiction is nearly unparalleled. What makes her work so? Let’s allow this collection to be an example.  As I read her stories here,…

Elevating

La Paz. One of the third world’s dynamic cities. Three million people high in the Andes – some 12,000 feet above sea level. Cabs race like dodge’em cars, not on New York streets, but on ragged asphalt, testimony to its impoverished past. Now, modern architecture rises to compete with the mountains. Tower cranes turn their…

Creating the Map to Literature’s Future

Things change. And one thing that’s changed for me in the past couple of years is that I’m not reading as voraciously. The thirty-plus books I used to read has dwindled to a short dozen. That could be because of several factors, but all of them come back to my love for literary fiction and…

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…