James Joyce by Richard Ellmann My rating: 4 of 5 stars Biography must be the most traditional, even rigid, of the prose genres, exceeding murder mysteries or romance novels. It marches from birth to death (or from family history to cultural legacy) at the stately pace of the old three-volume Victorian novel and with the … Continue reading Richard Ellmann, James Joyce
What is fiction? What is it for? Hints at an answer to these imponderables turn up in the unlikeliest places. For example, in an old article on psychology's replication crisis: If it turned out that people were so variable that even very close replications threw up entirely different results, “it would mean that we could … Continue reading Manifesto, Advertisement, and Excerpt: Introducing The Class of 2000
[This is an expansion of a brief response I posted yesterday to Tumblr in reply to user macrolit, who, upon being denounced for sharing a quote from Simone de Beauvoir even though she and Jean-Paul Sartre seem to have sexually exploited young women, wondered: I’ve already mentioned de Beauvoir and Sartre, but what about William … Continue reading Against Intellectual Biblioclasm
There was a debate recently on social media over indie press Tyrant Books's tweeted proclamation that "they no longer accept agented authors." The pro-agent side argued that agents were necessary as advocates for the economic and creative interests of authors, while the anti-agent side claimed that agents were bottom-line-focused gatekeepers of the middlebrow, inescapable duller … Continue reading Buy Portraits and Ashes for Small Business Saturday!
Older generations of writers who had come up through the ranks of journalism (and who had often been to war) used to complain about the academic colonization of literature, particularly of the novel, that ostensibly most democratic of forms. In "American Plastic," for instance, his survey of postmodern fiction, Gore Vidal lamented a context so … Continue reading Back to School: Literature and Life
Introduction The person who made the statement quoted (not quite verbatim, so please don't go googling) in the eighth numbered section of my post on Jimmy Corrigan is the editor of a journal that published a short story of mine last year. At $10 a copy, this journal is probably not reaching very many people, and … Continue reading Short Story: “The Embrace”
Mark de Silva has written a superb polemic essay against the state of the literary novel in our time: “Distant Visions: Putdownable Prose and the State of the Art-Novel.” In it, he issues a challenge to the three-way convergence of memoir, journalism, and fiction today, which he sees as privileging easy-to-read prose and easy-to-identify-with situations, a … Continue reading Poetry, Product, and the Novel: A Few Notes on Mark de Silva’s “Distant Visions”
Please click here for a free pdf of my latest short story, published in the December issue of Writing Raw (and check out the rest of the issue!). Writing Raw prefaces each story with a brief description; here is their teaser for mine: When her sister announces that is absconding with a dubious man attracted … Continue reading Published: “Sweet Angry God”
Let us continue to count, and talk, and think about the numbers. —Claire Vaye Watkins As one of the major theses of Claire Vaye Watkins’s celebrated manifesto, “On Pandering,” is that the subject-position I represent should not be acknowledged as a legitimate authority on the essay’s quality or cogency, I will not address myself to … Continue reading Punching What?
[I wrote this almost two years ago, in September of 2013, and posted it to Tumblr in response to the waves of Franzenfreude then breaking over the Internet, occasioned by the publication of excerpts from The Kraus Project (which I have browsed through but never read cover to cover). As the tides swell again, I … Continue reading Franzen and His Enemies