Essays

January 19, 2011

The Great Late Henry James 8

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If there was ever a rule that an American writer should do his boldest, most experimental work first and then retreat to safe ground, no one ever bothered to tell Henry James.

January 18, 2011

The Story Problem: 10 Thoughts on Academia’s Novel Crisis 77

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The rhythm of school is conducive to the writing of small things, not big things, and we don’t try hard enough to think beyond that rhythm because, for many of us, it’s the only rhythm we know.

January 13, 2011

The Writer at The Memory Table 4

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The workings of the mind and the creative process are ripe subjects for memoir, perhaps more so when the author has suffered from a traumatic brain injury.

January 12, 2011

Writing from the Garret: The Joys and Dangers of Readership 7

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I’ve been wondering a lot about how sharing one’s writing with a larger audience alters one’s process–how having multiple readers, a potential world of them, can strengthen that process, and challenge it, and how it can also, if you aren’t careful, wound and compromise it.

January 11, 2011

Exiles of Historical Fiction 4

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The saying goes, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” but in reference to historical fiction, a better saying would be, “Those who don’t add something new to the past are simply repeating it.”

January 7, 2011

Robert Musil and The Man Without Qualities: Imperial Vienna as a Portrait of Now 5

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Robert Musil wrote The Man Without Qualities in the 1930s, but his modernist elegy to Belle Époque Vienna offers an achingly familiar picture of dissolution and malaise.

January 6, 2011

Interactive Art: What Video Games Can Learn from Freud 9

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What if the best thing art has to offer is freedom from choice?

November 30, 2010

Sula 2

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I’ve lent and given away hundreds of books to hundreds of people, but I’ve never lent Sula to anyone except my oldest daughter.

November 24, 2010

The Last Pen Pal 5

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While mankind strives to improve itself to death, some of us want no part of it.

November 19, 2010

Consciousness on the Page: A Primer on the Novels of Nicholson Baker 2

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Nicholson Baker understands how often people think about sex, but he also understands that, often times, they just think about shoelaces — and he understands those thoughts of sex and shoelaces aren’t as far apart, in form or in content, as they might at first seem.