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,…

This Time, It’s All In The Technique

  I’ve had the experience of watching a movie in a local theater, the person in the row in front of me busy whispering aloud, explaining what transpires on the screen to his or her companion. Yes, such prattle may add to your own understanding of this cinematic event, but it’s damned annoying. And so…

Stories With An Arkansas Sensibility

  Collected Stories, by Raymond Carver Continuing my focus on the short story: Without realizing their liaison, I met Carver’s wife in Atlanta in the eighties. As with most writing wannabes (I was only beginning to understand this art in my makeup), I sought her out at a book launch of hers and probably said…

The Prisons of Home

A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline The world of fiction is an organic, living one. That is to say, in regard to Kline’s fine book, there is a growing number of ways to write a biography. (Having written and soon to have published a similar biographic novel about one Hans Ulrich Rudel,…

What Makes The Master Writer?

  Thumbing through the latest New Yorker issue (March 28, 2016) turned up a pleasant surprise: a short story, “My Purple Scented Novel,” by Ian McEwan, probably today’s most highly regarded English novelist. Predictably for me, the story proved as satisfying as cold watermelon on a hot North Carolina summer day. Then I began to wonder: What…

Smooth Writing, Smooth Read

Pronto, by Elmore Leonard I hadn’t read an Elmore Leonard book in ages, definitely not since I began writing full time, and I’m planning to write a sequel to one of my mystery novels next year, so I decided to read something by him again, to size up his chops. He wrote Pronto toward the…

Pushing Poets and Then Some

The Writer’s Chronicle, November 2013   It’s not a clean sweep, but as far as interviews and articles go this month, The Writer’s Chronicle is focused on poets and poetry. I’m a little disappointed but not shocked, certainly. This is an academically based publication; and where do today’s poets run for cover? Academe. I’m no…