Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘fiction matters’

Shop Talk |

"We should do more to develop the next Shakespeare and less to develop the next Justin Verlander."

A few years ago, in a Chicago coffee shop, I got into a conversation with two writer friends about sports. One couldn’t understand why pro athletes were paid so much money and ended up delivering a passionate riff on how she didn’t see any actual purpose in sports. The man at the next table was patently eavesdropping and kept opening his mouth as if to jump in, but he ultimately refrained. To this day, I’ve always wondered what he would have said, and whether he would have joined in on my friend’s side, or if he’d have helped me try […]


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"Atlas Shrugged" + "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" 4-Ever

Clearly there’s some connection between literature and romance. We know that fiction makes you more empathetic, and thus, possibly, more dateable. Writing and love are a lot alike. And a literary misalignment can even break a budding romance. Recently we’ve heard about how a shared love of books can act as a matchmaker. Now the San Francisco Public Library has taken that a step further, organizing a speed-dating session in the library itself: Participants were asked to bring a favorite book, so he clutched a copy of “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. In […]


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Boston's Most Powerful Women: Sheriffs, Senators, Attorneys General, and… Writers?

Boston Magazine recently compiled “The 50 Most Powerful Women in Boston,” listing “the players who pull the strings around here.” The list included Beantown superwomen like the county sheriff, a state senator, the founder of Zipcar, the Massachusetts Attorney General, bank executives, lawyers, the presidents of Harvard and MIT, and… Eve Bridburg, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit writing center Grub Street. The magazine describes Bridburg as “[g]uiding more than 10,000 writers over the literary center’s 14 years, including everyone from untried hopefuls to award-winning novelists such as Iris Gomez and Randy Susan Meyers.” How refreshing that a […]


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"To train our hearts and our minds in the art of complexity"

Do yourself a favor and read this fantastic essay, “How Reading Junot Diaz Can Help America Prosper,” by friend of FWR Dean Bakopoulos, right now. It’s one of the most eloquent, passionate explanations for why fiction matters that I’ve ever seen. I’d like to quote the whole thing, but here’s just a taste: Another morning, after I lectured on Junot Diaz’s story “Nilda,” a heartbreaking coming-of-age story in which the narrator, Junior, learns that nobody is invincible, not even his once mythically heroic brother, struck down by cancer at seventeen. Despite Junior’s intentions on leaving his neighborhood and moving on, […]


Interviews |

Sabotage and Subversion: An Interview with Joshua Furst

Joshua Furst grapples with the human condition by creating characters on the edge. They inhabit the fringes of society, sanity and cultural norms, but remain incredibly grounded in a common American experience, with all its oddball rituals and quirks.


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Our Job

Since the death of The Virginia Quarterly Review’s Managing Editor, Kevin Morrissey, at the end of July, there has been much discussion in the literary, academic, and publishing communities about what led up to this tragedy. Some of the reporting has been sensational, some praised as investigative journalism. Frequently, both have been said of the same article. Needless to say, the dialogue at times has been vitriolic. Particularly in the sprawling comment threads that have followed so many of the essays published online in such places as The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Hook. Eventually the story grew so […]


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Reality and imagination: two sides of the same coin?

In an essay for the New York Times, professor of logic Timothy Williamson examines the connections between imagination and reality—and comes to some counterintuitive conclusions: On further reflection, imagining turns out to be much more reality-directed than the stereotype implies. If a child imagines the life of a slave in ancient Rome as mainly spent watching sports on TV, with occasional household chores, they are imagining it wrong. That is not what it was like to be a slave. The imagination is not just a random idea generator. The test is how close you can come to imagining the life […]


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Jonathan Franzen on the cover of TIME

Jonathan Franzen is on the cover of the August 23 issue of TIME Magazine, with an article marking the publication of his latest novel, Freedom. Since he’s the first living author to be so featured in over a decade (the last being Stephen King), it’s caused quite a stir in the lit world. In particular, the caption below Franzen’s photo is catching some snark. The L.A. Times notes: Franzen appears on the cover of the upcoming issue of Time magazine — an honor not extended to a living author since Stephen King in 2000 — with the words “Great American […]




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