Articles by Nick Ripatrazone

May 14, 2015

Breakfast: A Love Story 2

Literature and breakfast are both slow arts. Early morning arts that unfold while the world is still groggy and optimistic.

May 5, 2015

Before You Start: Introductions, Forewords, and Prefaces 2

A preface is an ars poetica for a book, for a literary life. A preface often feels like the writer sitting across the table from the reader, and saying, listen, now I am going to tell you the truth.

April 9, 2015

So Many Hills: Writing as Training 3

The constant desire to be a faster, better runner has helped me channel competition as a writer without being sidelined by it. My hunger is different than ambition. I know that I am ultimately only racing against myself.

April 3, 2015

Difficult, Dated, Frustrating, Prophetic: Teaching Thomas Pynchon 15

The movement toward skills-based education in the humanities has also created an effort-return mentality: the expectation that a text can, or should, be distilled into a single sentence. Don’t we want students who know how to handle messes?

March 24, 2015

Praise the Colophon: Twenty Notes on Type 3

I call for the return of colophons. Colophons can send us back into books for another level of reading. If we love books, that second reading might be ecstatic in the same way good writing can lift us.

March 11, 2015

When Students Workshop Their Teacher 2

I recognize that some teachers will hesitate to cede power to their students in this manner. But if I am willing to let a classroom of teenagers read, edit, and critique my work, then undergraduate and graduate instructors might consider it.

February 25, 2015

Bugged and Bruised: On Jason Ockert’s ‘Wasp Box’ 1

Ockert reveals how sometimes evil arrives not with a bang or a whimper, but with the calming buzz of the inevitable.

February 17, 2015

Forty for 40: A Literary Reader for Lent 5

Lent is the most literary season of the liturgical year. The Lenten narrative is marked by violence, suffering, anticipation, and finally, joy. Here is a literary reader for Lent: 40 stories, poems, essays, and books for the 40 days of this season.

January 28, 2015

Conversation as Performance: On ‘BOMB: The Author Interviews’ 2

Writer interviews serve a strangely utilitarian purpose. “Inspire” might be a thin word in our cynical literary present, but dare I say that reading these conversations made me want to handwrite excerpts on index cards and lean them against books on my shelves.

January 16, 2015

The Last English Teacher 12

It is possible to be cold-hearted and teach, but why do so? Students experience enough private pain some days to fill a lifetime. Literature can be the salve for a weary heart.