March 13, 2014

The Writing on the Wall (Redux): The 2014 Whitney Biennial, Starring David Foster Wallace 1


As the practice of writing on paper (everything from telegrams to letters to books to Post-It notes) is increasingly devoured by technology, words on paper are evolving from widespread tools of communication into the rarefied stuff of art. As things recede, they also expand. As a result, words are becoming as legitimate as the more traditional subject matter of painting, drawing, video and sculpture.

March 12, 2014

Can #TwitterFiction Transcend Gimmickry and Become Art? 6


One afternoon in early January, I started to notice something curious happening on my Twitter feed. A series of seemingly — bafflingly! — connected retweets were popping up, a few of them from people I know but most of them from strangers, and they appeared to be telling a story.

March 7, 2014

A Closed World: On By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept 3


By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is a staggering accomplishment, an exquisite and often ecstatic rendition of a tumultuous affair: “Jupiter has been with Leda, I thought, and now nothing can avert the Trojan wars. All legend will be broken, but who will escape alive?”

March 6, 2014

Baffling Dictums: On the Rules of Writing 11


Ask any writer about the rules he’s heard throughout the years, and he will be able to recite a litany as deeply embedded as the Lord’s Prayer. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. The first sentence is key. The last sentence is key. All writing is rewriting. No adverbs. No one aside from you finds your dreams interesting. You should never write in the second person.

March 4, 2014

On Reading Aloud 1


There are precious few opportunities in life to read and be read to, and there is something utopian to me about the creation of a site like Librivox, which operates solely on people’s inexhaustible appetite for reading and listening.

March 4, 2014

Getting With the Program: On MFA vs. NYC 16


What was clearly intended as a series of artsy-smartsy essays examining the state of play in literary America too often comes off as an extended moan of self-pity from a once-cosseted corner of Brownstone Brooklyn.

March 3, 2014

Free Rides: Writing and Reading on Trains 1


I hope Amtrak develops these introductory residencies into a full program, and that these writers are inspired to create new work, breathe life into old drafts, and maybe even enjoy some good reading.

February 27, 2014

Creativity and Madness: On Writing Through the Drugs 23


I feared that taking medication to ease my anxiety and panic might destroy my urge or ability to create. I had heard of many artists who had gone mad or suffered from horrible depression, and took the popular prescription of the day, never to write or create again.

February 26, 2014

Fear Not, English Is Safe From ‘Satisfries’ 5


What may seem like a frontal attack standard written English is in fact something quite different: a rise of a new public language heavily influenced by oral speech that, supercharged by online and television discourse, does much of the actual persuading in modern life while leaving standard, university-taught English unscathed.

February 25, 2014

Teaching the ‘Law and Order’ Short Story 12


How do you teach writing to students who watch movies and television instead of reading?