Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘reader-writer relations’

Interviews |

Bringing the News: An Interview with Richard Ford

In this lively conversation, Travis Holland and author Richard Ford discuss the genesis of Ford’s most famous fictional character, Frank Bascombe, the importance of always remembering the reader, greeting cards, what could well be one of the greatest short stories of the 20th century, and why place in fiction means nothing.

Shop Talk |

Literature Maps

The following guest post is by Emily VanDusen, an FWR intern and first-year student at the University of Michigan. As a student, a writer, a reader, and simply a person, I have made many a concept map in my day, whether in writing or in my imagination. The organization of interrelated thoughts takes many forms, but few are as straightforward and yet complex as the “literature maps” offered by All you have to do to see the connections and proximity of one author’s “relationship” to another is type in a name and watch the screen bloom. What’s cool is […]

Shop Talk |

Dear Franny,

I know, sweetheart. I know how you feel. I left school because I was surrounded by people who failed to recognize their potential as human beings. They nattered on and on about the most insubstantial things, and they could not see past the end of their egotistical noses, and more than once I felt queasy when I stared down at a chicken sandwich, inane prattle ringing in my ears. But I promise you that there are still people who are bright and good and kind. The above is an excerpt from a letter to Franny, you know the one, of […]

Essays |

The ReCorrections: Part II

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.

Essays |

The ReCorrections: Part I

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.

Interviews |

New Ways of Looking at Old Questions: An Interview with Heidi Durrow

“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.”

Shop Talk |

SHAY-bahn, not cha-BONE

When you have a last name like Stameshkin, it’s rare–and lovely–to hear someone say it correctly. And I imagine that if even if you’re a world-famous author like Michael Chabon (see the subject line), Jonathan Lethem (that’s LEETH-um) or Chimamada Ngozi Adichie (en-GO-zeh ad-DEE-chay), it’s frustrating to hear thousands of fans and critics say they love…someone else. To avoid crimes of mispronunciation, study this guide to pronouncing authors’ names (via Buzzfeed via Dieselbookstore via The Panorama Book Review): it’s a great resource if you’re introducing, teaching, or even just talking about one of these writers. (Thanks to Tori and Todd […]

Shop Talk |

When one book closes…

After finishing a book you love, is it hard to move on? How long do you wait to open another — and how do you shake that feeling it won’t measure up to the last? On the Kenyon Review‘s KR Blog, Elizabeth Ames Staudt considers this dilemma: An insistence on finding a book that’s impossibly similar to the last will ultimately prove as disappointing as eating a falafel sandwich anywhere in Paris but at L’As du Fallafel, as will an arbitrarily ‘opposite’ selection when you’re still craving fried chickpeas. What’s an appropriate pining period when it comes to novels? How […]

Shop Talk |

The Perils of "Contact Me"

One of my new year’s resolutions is to reach out to other writers more often. But in a recent New York Times essay, Ben Yagoda looks at the downside of being in touch with one’s readers: Reader-to-author e-missives come in a few, quite specific, categories. The message above is an example of the most common (for me), queries tied to an author’s area of expertise. I have written books about Will Rogers, The New Yorker and grammar, and a few times a week I get a question on one of these topics. This is flattering… […] Less welcome are the […]

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