Articles by Frank Kovarik

June 14, 2011

Last Words 14

When do we, as writers, accept that a piece is as good as it will ever be, even if it’s not that great? When do we decide that a piece will never be good enough to be published?

February 4, 2011

Her Story Next to His: Beloved and The Odyssey 4

In the era of O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain, it is puzzling that more attention has not been paid to the extensive parallels to The Odyssey in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

January 4, 2011

New Yorker Fiction By the Numbers 8

Several years ago I started cataloging the fiction published in The New Yorker in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet began merely as a way to keep track of what I’d read, but I soon became curious about what the spreadsheet’s data-sorting capabilities could reveal.

November 11, 2010

Strange Flowers and Gubbinals: On Teaching and Pain 2

What teacher has not felt this pain—the pain of the audible yawn from the kid in the back row just as you launch into the lesson you worked on for an hour and a half—or worse, the lesson you spent only ten minutes preparing and are now feeling vulnerable about?

October 6, 2010

The Hardy Boys Need No Eulogy 8

Inertia kept the long line of Hardy adventures on the top level of my bookshelf until I finally packed them all in a box and packed the box down in the basement, exhumed only when I decided to eulogize the brothers here.

June 7, 2010

The Risks of Fiction: On The New Yorker Writers Under 40 List 6

The rewards of fiction can be greater than that of nonfiction—the ecstatic feeling of transport when you’re pulled into the world of a story, given a new window into human experience—but you can also come away from a story angry that the writer has just wasted 45 minutes of your life.

February 4, 2010

It’s All Right to Cry: Restoring Raymond Carver’s Voice 12

The conventional shorthand is that Gordon Lish’s versions are bracing and bleak, Carver’s verbose and sentimental. But, in a just world, Beginners would be published as a stand-alone volume to replace the shell that Lish made of it.

July 29, 2009

Geometric Solids: Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd 6

I first heard about Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd about twenty years ago, when I was in seventh or eighth grade. My classmates and I were all reading Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz, and our English teacher attempted to guide our reading choices to higher-brow material. “I think it’s great that you’re […]