Essays Archives - Page 73 of 107 - The Millions

September 7, 2011

(Re)Imagining True Lives: On Historical Fiction 9

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Let me just say, with as much un-dotty enthusiasm as I can muster, that I am, like, way super excited about the histo-fi seminar I’m teaching this fall, “(Re)Imagining Lives.”

September 7, 2011

The Million Basic Plots 8

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TV Tropes has swollen into a frighteningly comprehensive taxonomy of all known plot devices across all known media. As a writer, I find it impossible to browse it without feeling: how will anyone ever come up with anything new?

September 2, 2011

Why Are So Many Literary Writers Shifting into Genre? 94

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Is it a mass sellout, a belated and half-hearted attempt by writers to chase the market? Or are two disparate worlds finally merging?

September 2, 2011

Irène Némirovsky, Suite Française, and The Mirador 1

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Notes on the French novelist Irène Némirovsky, her “violent masterpiece” Suite Française, and the imaginary memoir written by her daughter.

August 30, 2011

My Life in Stories 22

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I would have to try to get better – to improve as a writer – in the public eye. Writing stories. For better or for worse, I surrendered myself to the system’s clankings.

August 26, 2011

‘There It Is’: Vietnam and the Generosities of Fiction 9

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If there were no such thing as fiction, we’d have had to invent it, if we ever wanted to make sense out of a thing like the Vietnam War.

August 24, 2011

On Superheroes and Superintendents 2

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It seems obvious to say, but wouldn’t we all like that chance to start from issue one, with a whole slew of villains and love interests and story arcs to cover?

August 23, 2011

Shutting the Drawer: What Happens When a Book Doesn’t Sell? 72

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The truth is, my novel isn’t selling, and it probably won’t. There, I’ve said it. Eventually, a writer must accept rejection, accept the death of her first true darling, and move on. Can I face that sobering reality? Can I put my first book into the drawer, and shut it?

August 22, 2011

No Place Like Home 5

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At the risk of stating the obvious: isn’t it strange, I mean, this thing about being a human being breathing and thinking and sensing and dwelling always, always, in a place?

August 18, 2011

Making Room for Readers 39

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It’s a mistake to rarify reading and put books out of reach. It’s a mistake to assume that readers are “mostly born and only a little made.” Because those discoveries in libraries and bookstores — and, yes, on my parents’ shelves, too — are what made me a reader, not some mysterious, bibliogenic accident of birth.