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…

Writing The Big Review

    There are tons of source material for writing book reviews, from those by pros in glossy magazines to the smallest, most humble blog. In my last post I offered one way to write the review in short form, i.e., a review you might write for a book on Amazon. And I promised to give you…

Short Stuff Makes It More Difficult

The River Swimmer, by Jim Harrison   The novella as a literary form has been around for a long while; it remains as popular in Great Britain and Europe as it has been in the first half of the U.S.’s twentieth century. For readers, the popularity stems from its abbreviated length, its compact style that…

The Self as Enemy

The Antagonist, By Lynn Coady This book is on the surface a rant by a hard-luck fellow, Gordon Rankin, Jr. (Rank), via e-mail, caused by an old college acquaintance’s novel, in which Rank finds himself the very apparent subject. Beneath the superficial rant, though, the book concerns many things: A mirror in which Rank sees…

I Need Your Help With This Story

A story of mine is in contention for a prize, and you can read and comment on it here. I won’t comment on it here myself, other than to say it’s written in a style in which the reader is “eavesdropping” on a conversation, and certain things must be inferred.

“My Chivalric Fiasco” Is, Sadly, One

image via Harper's Magazine I'm always leery of stories, or novels, written in what's purported to be "a daring break from old-fashioned literary stylism," or "a new stylistic voice," and this is why: All too often, one of two things happen in such stories – The style isn't thought through well enough to coherently complement…

Cliches and Biases in Nonfiction and Fiction

I've just finished reading the August 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine, and as usual, I pay special attention to the fiction. In this issue, too, there's a memoir, and in these two pieces I see a difference in style based, I suspect, on reader expectation. image via worldmags.net The memoir, "Summer People," by Justin Kaplan,…