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Posts tagged "Fiction"

Cautiously Postmodern White Trash: The Resurrection of Larry Brown

The canon of Southern literature is sprawling and intimidating. Larry Brown was aware. A fireman and lifelong Mississippian, Brown is probably best-known for his determination to become a writer; following that, his success at it. Though the road was “long and rough,” he published many stories, novels, and one memoir, until his untimely death at […]

Miriam Toews Has Something to Say

Miriam Toews (pronounced “taves”) first came to my attention in 2015 with All My Puny Sorrows, a moving novelization of her sister’s suicide; this intelligent, propulsive work tested the bounds of empathy and family loyalty. Her newest book, Women Talking, is a response to the real-life story of mass sexual assault in a remote Mennonite […]

In Praise of Confusion and John L’Heureux

John L’Heureux’s latest short story, published recently in the New Yorker, tells of a woman who wants a sign from God…and receives one, just not in the way she expected. You can read the whole thing here. It’s called “The Rise and Rise of Annie Clark.” Annie, a “capital-C Catholic,” is trying to measure her sanctity. […]

J.B. Roane and the Case of the Belated Apology

This is the first in an ongoing series of original short stories featuring the Rev. J.B. Roane. Thornton bought me a cup of coffee at the same Dairy Queen where he found my business card the previous day, pinned up a little crooked on a bulletin board next to the men’s room. J.B. Roane – […]

Peace/Love/Elvis: The Death of Ambition, and Also of Denis Johnson

It’s hard to say exactly when the plummet of Elvis Presley began. Some say in the late 60s, some say the early 70s. Some might say as early as 1958, when he was drafted into the Army. In any case, there’s no denying the devilish phase of physical and mental deterioration that carried him to […]

Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable (According to DFW)

The time has come to post four rather astounding quotes from the 1993 interview that Larry McCaffery conducted with David Foster Wallace. It first appeared in Review of Contemporary Fiction, and the second paragraph will be familiar to those who attended last week’s conference: I had a teacher I liked who used to say good […]

Moralism, Judgment, and Gratuity in Harvest, by Jim Crace

Jim Crace’s Harvest, a shortlist contender for next week’s Man Booker Prize, is immensely difficult to review, at first glace a simple and somewhat narrow plot, but one which suggests dozens of vanishing points, valences–something reachable, but elusive. Crace’s indirect sympathy with the old biblical theme of the exile representing the everyman is what most resonated […]

Short Stories: The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges

This time, we turn to one of the famous Argentine’s stories about religion, language, fatalism, and self-justification. To read along, go here. In classic, weird Borges style, “The Library of Babel” takes us to an alternate/future/past universe, one of a tremendous library-world whose citizens are constantly trying to discover the meaning of the world they […]

The End Is the Beginning Is the End, Part IV: Living Backwards

To read the previous installment, go here. For part one, here. Silent in the Still Waters of Mystery Here’s an example of the reflexivity of my own self-interested, predetermined fiction-making. Recently, I sauntered into the elevator at the end of a day at the courthouse. Like every elevator, this one has an “emergency” button. After […]

The End Is the Beginning Is the End, Part III: The Trellis of the Mind

The End Is the Beginning We are all familiar with fictions in which the desire for consolation puts the beginning and middle “under the shadow of the end.”  In fact, we all write numerous such fictions, many of them daily: think of every argument that takes place in your mind, how the end is determined, […]

The End Is the Beginning Is the End, Part II: Writing Backwards

Where the Imperfections of Memory Meet the Inadequacies of Documentation The story of Adrian’s suicide begins with a girl.  In college, Tony dates a sharp and judgmental girl named Veronica, who will not allow Tony to “go all the way.”  The relationship includes a weekend trip home to Veronica’s condescending family, where Tony hears, and […]

The End Is the Beginning Is the End, Part I: A Review of Julian Barnes’ “The Sense of an Ending”

There are a million reasons to read Julian Barnes’ novella The Sense of an Ending, but I can think of only one reason not to: you have special disdain for the delicacy of language struck by a fine author operating with prodigious grace at the height of his powers.  Yes, that annoys me, too.  And, […]