In the midst of a stellar authorial career and after a quarter century of teaching creative writing, Bret Lott takes a moment to talk about sending students in the right direction, maintaining a sincere workshop practice, and keeping your writing (and reading) life alive as you teach.
Known for stories and novels that force us to question the conventional dichotomy between realist and fantasy fiction, Kevin Brockmeier knows how to reveal the strangeness of the world around us. In conversation with Mary Stewart Atwell, Brockmeier discusses his new novel, The Illumination, and the compelling metaphors that inform his writing.
This week’s feature is Simon Van Booy’s Everything Beautiful Began After. Published earlier this month by Harper Perrenial, the book is Van Booy’s first novel. He is also the author of two story collections, The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, which won the 2009 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Additionally, he is the editor of three nonfiction philosophy titles: Why We Need Love, Why We Fight, and Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter. Born in London and raised in Wales, Van Booy now lives in New York City, where he teaches at the School […]
The Half-Known World, Robert Boswell’s collection of essays on the craft of fiction writing, is also driving-idea behind his conversation with Michael Hinken. In it Boswell discusses the power of writing better sentences, characterization as jazz, the narrative brain versus the linear brain, the value of writing fifty drafts and other mysteries and wonders of the half-known world.
Lily King’s three novels stand as testaments to the power and endless variation of familial relationships. King’s latest novel, Father of the Rain, tells the story of a daughter’s life-long, primal loyalty to her charming and manipulative father. Interviewer Joshua Bodwell discusses longhand, autobiographical influence, puppies, and how to depict realistic sex, with a writer whose work remains “a beacon of tenderness and sincerity.”
Curtis Smith returns to Rick Bass’s story collection The Watch after two decades in order to remind himself what it was in this particular book that sparked a young man to want to become a writer, as well as to see whether the stories still hold up to his fifty-year-old self.
Watson was born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi. And the Mississippi of today, and of the not-too-distant past, is the setting of much of his fiction. In Airships, Barry Hannah wrote that “In Mississippi, it’s hard to achieve a vista,” but Brad Watson does just that in this new collection. Not only is there a breathtaking sense of the Gulf Coast and the Delta in his writing, that geography is given depth—a hardscrabble social landscape inseparable from the place itself.
In the second part of his essay, Scott F. Parker discusses The Corrections as a key to Franzen’s thoughts on commerce and art, and how this tension led to the controversy surrounding the Oprah Book Club. Parker argues that the deep connection the reader forges with the Lamberts is precisely because of their abiding flaws and loneliness, because Franzen reveals how their struggles are our own.
Nearly a decade after publication, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections still looms large in American fiction. The novel, and the controversy surrounding it, have influenced the way we think about issues of family, identity, art, commerce, and the role of the writer. In Part I of “The ReCorrections” Scott F. Parker reveals the impact the book had on him as a reader and why he believes “the mood of The Corrections trumps its plot.” Look for Part II tomorrow.
As the swirl of publicity surrounding Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom begins to settle, Scott F. Parker makes the case for a novel that transcends time and place because it captures them so faithfully. Parker also looks at how Franzen’s difficult characters reveal our own prejudices. Later in the week: Parker looks back at The Corrections, nearly a decade after publication.