Articles by Michael Bourne

February 16, 2015

My Neighbor, the Poet Laureate 1

When I read over the weekend that Levine had died, at age 87, I thought of that rainy September afternoon in Brooklyn.

January 26, 2015

The Page 40 Test 18

But by paying close attention to how a writer constructs sentences, we can begin to see how the larger structure of the novel is built.

January 20, 2015

A World Made of Words: On Anthony Doerr’s Nouns and Verbs 19

Twenty-one words, three simple clauses, and wham, you are there.

December 7, 2014

A Year in Reading: Michael Bourne 1

Meyer spent five years researching and writing The Son, reading some 300 books on Texas, teaching himself how to hunt with a bow, and shooting a buffalo so he could experience what it was like to drink its blood.

November 25, 2014

Just Try and Stop Me: Jane Smiley Sets Her Sights on the American Century 4

The idea for the trilogy, Smiley says, arose in part out of her fury over the political situation in the U.S. since the Bush Administration and a desire to understand “how the country got where it is today.”

November 18, 2014

Magical Thinking: Talent and the Cult of Craft 49

As creative writing education continues to expand from a narrow field pursued by a devoted few to a profitable industry employing thousands, perhaps we should pause a moment to reflect on precisely what is being sold and what assumptions underlie the transaction.

September 30, 2014

It’s 2014, Do You Know Where You Are? Bright Lights, Big City at 30 6

The voice at the center of Bright Lights may be spoiled and petulant, but it also is unmistakably American: fatally romantic, distrustful of authority, and democratic to a fault, even as it sounds its barbaric yawp over the rooftop parties of the world.

September 10, 2014

Her Body, Herself: On Dylan Landis’s Rainey Royal 0

There are the makings of an explosive novel here, but Landis, having set the bomb in place and struck the match, declines to light the fuse.

July 17, 2014

A Vanished World of Readers: On Joanna Rakoff’s My Salinger Year 3

A less-heralded casualty of the digital age is the disintegration of the lower rungs of the ladder that have long led young, smart readers into the caste of professional tastemakers.

June 27, 2014

Betting on Quality: On One Story Collected 1

If One Story Collected is a stethoscope to the heart of contemporary American fiction, the news is good: despite a run of economic shocks to the publishing industry, the muscle that pumps fresh blood into the system is still beating like a tom-tom.