A bookish fifteen-year-old breaches taboos in the small New England town of Wick. Poet Rebecca Wolff’s masterful first novel is an Appalachian folk ballad rendered gothic–full of sex and ghosts, mixing caution and temptation, obsessed with origins but somehow timeless.
People tell me that I am a poetic writer. My response to this characterization varies from Thanks! to What does that mean? to Yes, my novel did sell like poetry to I want people to love my work in the way that poetry lovers love poetry, desperately and a bit dangerously, gripping the pistol under the pillow with one hand and the childhood stuffed rabbit with the other. But what, really, does this cross-genre accusation imply? It’s meant as praise (I’m fairly certain), but wary praise, as if I’ve stumbled into a neighbor’s backyard party, where I’m welcome as long […]
North Carolina’s esteemed novelist, short story writer, teacher, and former poet laureate Fred Chappell came along at a critical moment in my writing life: when I was starting to hear voices. Trained as a journalist but always identifying as a writer, I resumed a childhood poetry habit after it had been on hiatus during college. I began writing short stories as well in the early ’80s, and then started a novel. As I began to take myself (semi)-seriously as a writer, I started to attend conferences and workshops. That’s when the voices began. Don’t mix genres, the experts warned. Decide […]
AWP provided a perfect opportunity to discover what has captured the imaginations of fellow writers with vastly different viewpoints. One such writer is Eric Hendrixson, who introduced me to Bizarro fiction. As Hendrixson described his novel, Bucket of Face, I realized I’d been completely unaware of this genre that Horror World calls “the literary equivalent of a David Lynch or a Tim Burton film.” Hendrixson kindly offered to answer some of my novice questions. Define Bizarro fiction. Bizarro is literature of the weird. This isn’t the same thing as experimental fiction, which is weird in its structure and sometimes unreadable. […]
Fiction writers are sometimes the first to prostrate themselves and say they don’t get poetry, but these five recommendations have been hand-picked for prosers: Post Moxie by Julia Story, Thin Kimono by Michael Earl Craig, Noose and Hook by Lynn Emanuel, The Madeleine Poems by Paul Legault, and American Fanatics by Dorothy Barresi.
Erzsebet Bathory gained immortal fame as one of the first female serial killers; known as the “Bloody Countess,” she was accused of brutally torturing and murdering over six-hundred young women. But was she really an unrepentant, psychopathic murderer—or simply a political obstacle to the king? Was she really bathing in the blood of her victims, or was she herself the victim of a witch hunt? Such questions haunt the pages of The Countess (Crown, 2010), Rebecca Johns’s lively historical novel, which reconstructs the complexity of this 17th century scandal and brings alive the woman behind the myth.
At the heart of Lev Grossman’s latest novel, The Magicians, lies the idea that a fantasy world exists, but one far more complex, and at times limiting, than Quentin Coldwater, the unlikely hero, might wish. Drawing on the rich fantasy traditions of Tolkien, Plover, and Rowling, Grossman subverts genre expectations in wholly original ways.
“I’ve always felt personally and emotionally closer to the searchers, rather than to the finders…to those who don’t get answers, as opposed to those who do. For me, the experience of epiclitus is closely related to the experience of the uncanny, but also to the experience of complex and problematic emotions, like yearning, and awe, and psychic unease, which are of particular interest to me. That precipice of endless uncertainty, of the impenetrable—those are the moments that I’ve always loved in literature, as well as the moments that have haunted me in life.”
“I don’t mind that when I’m interviewed I am speaking as a representative of biracial women. I’m heartened that people are interested. I do wonder, though, when the book is critiqued as being not enough about the biracial experience. To that criticism I say, Well, okay, but it’s not a position paper. It’s a story. … I have had a number of people “come out” to me, for lack of a better word, about their blended families, or about their grief, or about simply being a young person struggling against the labels, like geek or nerd, that they’d been assigned by peers. … They’ve connected their own stories to the stories I’ve told and suddenly feel empowered to talk about it.”