Essays

October 23, 2014

The Art of Dialogue: A Symposium 2

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Everybody, shut up. Now, I realize that a group of writers like yourselves would jump all over the chance to point out the irony of me beginning a symposium on dialogue by telling everyone to shut up, but I don’t want to hear it, okay? Let’s just get this over with. Jane Smiley, let’s begin with you.

October 21, 2014

Sex, Memoir, and the Real Lena Dunham 43

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Lena Dunham and Helen Gurley Brown are two women who wrote memoir-manuals more than a half a century apart but have been treated very similarly in the press. They weren’t honest enough. They were too honest—narcissistic navel-gazers.

October 17, 2014

The Curious Kick of Hearing an Actor Reading Your Writing 0

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“When I read a book I’m listening to what the author wrote,” says the actor Kevin Kenerly. “Some people look at a novel as a text, but I look at it as language.”

October 17, 2014

Remembering Les Plesko 4

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The tragedy of Les, as well as his greatest virtue, lay in his absolutely uncompromising stance on art and life: the world of commerce and the world of Absolute Art is a Venn diagram with a very small overlap.

October 16, 2014

Natasha: On a Storyteller Raised by a Wolf 6

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I used to think that, until I began reading and writing in college, I had no literary education, but I was wrong. I had Natasha.

October 15, 2014

Do Not Tell Me This Is Not Beautiful: On the Collaborative Art of Words and Images 3

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The collaborative medium between prose and photography, poetry and photography deserves a more established home in the spectrum of the literary world.

October 10, 2014

The Afterlife of Travel: On the Work of Philip Graham and Alma Gottlieb 4

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Maybe the ritual of villagers gathering under a sacred tree, spilling the blood of a chicken onto the ground, has a way of motivating a writer.

October 7, 2014

“The Whole Dreaded Terrorist Army of the Past”: Antal Szerb’s Journey By Moonlight 0

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Szerb is an adventurer on the page; the twists and turns of the plot challenge our sense of what a novel can and ought to be. But he is also an ironist. He shows us that our finest resolves are often motivated by shameful secrets or silly desires, and that by fleeing ourselves we end up more self-involved than ever.

October 2, 2014

The Truce Between Fabulism and Realism: On Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the Modern Novel 17

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Garcia Marquez solved an essential problem of the novel; he arrived at a moment of crisis for the form and offered the warring parties a graceful way out of it.

September 30, 2014

A Writer Walks Into a Bar. And Stays. 2

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Raccoon’s has beer-bucket specials starting at 9:30 am. I mean, on a Tuesday morning. This singular fact would qualify it as my favorite bar all on its own.