From the Archives: “When structure is done well, it should be like architecture: you sense the overall feel of the building—tall, or airy, or strong—but you’re not looking at the buttresses that hold it up or the seams where parts are fastened together.”
Lauren Groff’s second novel, Arcadia, gorgeously renders a commune’s rise, fall, and life-long resonance for the people who grew up within it. Unfolding as a series of snapshots, the book’s events span the birth of this late-1960s utopia and its central character, Bit Stone, to his middle age in a bleak—and imminent—dystopic future.
This week’s feature is Jack Driscoll’s new collection, The World of a Few Minutes Ago, which was released by Wayne State University Press this month. Driscoll is the author of four books of poetry and four previous books of fiction. His first story collection, Wanting Only to be Heard, won the AWP Award for Short Fiction in 1991, his novel Lucky Man, Lucky Woman won both the Pushcart Editors’ Book Award in 1999 and was subsequently selected as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award title in 2000, and his novel How Like an Angel was a Michigan […]
Even the most dedicated writers go through “not-writing” phases, deliberate or accidental ones. And when we return to our writing desks after that week or month or year away, our fingers and voices may feel…rusty. How do we get back that indescribable “it,” the voice that drives our prose and compels us to write it? The following exercise has helped me get my groove back on more than one occasion. It’s adapted from an assignment used by my former teacher Blanche Boyd (Terminal Velocity, The Revolution of Little Girls), who designed it for beginning writers–yet its usefulness extends to writers […]
In conversation with Anne Stameshkin, debut author Erika Dreifus shares true stories that inspired her collection, Quiet Americans; wonders when it’s kosher for authors to write characters from backgrounds they don’t share; explores how reviewing books makes us better fiction writers; and recommends favorite novels and collections by 21st-century Jewish authors.
Is SSM really almost over?! Thankfully we can read stories year round, but I still feel the urge (while they’re center stage) to list two recommendations this week. They both come from Narrative magazine, which does require (free) registration. But I promise, these stories are so good, it’s worth filling out a quick form to read them. And Narrative offers a huge, inspiring, and ever-growing archive of fiction from emerging writers to authors as well known as Margaret Atwood and T. C. Boyle; if I weren’t headed to a wedding this afternoon, I might curl up with this site all […]
Flaubert, best known for his part in fathering the modern novel, also wrote wonderful short fiction. This Saturday morning, I recommend curling up with “A Simple Heart.” A tribute to George Sand, this story was first published in 1877 as part of Flaubert’s final finished work, Three Tales; almost 100 years later it inspired Julian Barnes to write the novel Flaubert’s Parrot, which was shortlisted for the 1984 Booker Prize. Here’s a taste from “A Simple Heart”: For fifty years the ladies of Pont-l’Évêque envied Madame Aubain her servant Felicity. For a hundred francs a year she cooked, and cleaned, […]
Short Story Month wouldn’t be complete without some first-rate flash fiction. This morning, enjoy the following selections by Tara L. Masih, editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and author of the excellent collection Where the Dog Star Never Glows (Press 53, 2010) and the flash fiction chapbooks Fragile Skins and Tall Grasses. Below are first-line teasers; click on each story title to read (or listen to) the rest. “Dodging Frogs on Blackbird Road,” via Electric Flash (page 25 of the PDF) Never mind hindsight . . . after stretching and straining our bodies in […]
I first read “The Old Economy Husband” in the Atlantic Monthly, back when they published fiction every month and I subscribed. But I’d been thinking about canceling; I was an editorial assistant in Manhattan, and I was in no mood for what I called “stories about rich people.” It was two months after 9/11. I didn’t sit down on the subway because I felt safer near the door. This story about rich people–which wasn’t, it turned out, about rich people–made me miss my stop and renew my subscription. Here’s an excerpt: It was that summer, the summer we were fifty […]