I took a brief hiatus from writing these reviews in August and September. During that break, I read Cormac McCarthy's Suttree, a 1979 novel sometimes cited as its author's masterpiece, and not only because it is his longest single work. Influenced by Ulysses, Herzog, and Henry Miller, Suttree is a plotless, ribald, melancholy city novel: … Continue reading My Year in Books, 2019
I have to interrupt this eventful brief hiatus again to announce that my short story "White Girl," first published in summer 2016 in the now-defunct Amaranth Review, appears once more, free to read in its entirety, at Expat Press's website. Please click here to read it. If you have read it and would like, for … Continue reading Published: “White Girl” (Redux)
Because I have a few projects I'm working on, plus the start of the school year, I'm going to put my reviews here and on Goodreads on a brief hiatus of about a month or a month and a half. Please don't unfollow, dear reader—I will be back in the fall with my annual Halloween-season … Continue reading Xeriscapes of the Heart: A Brief Hiatus, a Long Excerpt
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
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
As you might have guessed from yesterday's defense of self-published literary fiction, I have independently published a novel, Portraits and Ashes. For a brief description, here is the back cover copy: Julia is an aspiring painter without money or direction, haunted by a strange family history. Mark is a successful architect who suddenly finds himself unemployed … Continue reading Announcing Portraits and Ashes
If American literature had been left wholly in the hands of established publishers—Ticknor and Fields, for instance—Longfellow might have remained our greatest poet. But Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos, had Leaves of Grass printed, at his own expense, in 1855—he even set most of the type himself. Likewise, if Virginia … Continue reading Literary Fiction: To Self-Publish or Not?
(Inspired loosely by this essay on planning vs. non-planning novelists.) I have written two and a half novels now, and my method seems to always be the same, despite my best intentions: I begin blindly with a character or image or situation or metaphor and then explore it at random, writing toward I know not … Continue reading Composition: Planned vs. Unplanned, Written vs. Typed
My short story, "White Girl," which I had thought too controversial to be published even before it took on a new and ghastly relevance this summer, appears in the first issue of the brand-new (and especially beautiful) Amaranth Review. You can read the inaugural issue in its entirety here; my story starts on page 70. Its … Continue reading Published: “White Girl”