Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘writing and identity’

Essays |

A Story Teller’s Story, A Poet’s Beginnings

Poet Debra Albery examines the influence of Sherwood Anderson on her writing, and on her understanding of her own history and place. She writes: “If I came into writing feeling largely without history or place, writing became a means of discovering both; it also became … a means of discovering a way out, the road ahead. Sherwood Anderson gave me a map.”


Reviews |

East of the West: A Country in Stories, by Miroslav Penkov

Bulgarian-American author Miroslav Penkov’s debut short story collection East of the West (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) comes at a time when his native country’s literary star is on the rise in the west. In this auspicious moment, Penkov delivers a heck of a book.


Reviews |

The Box: Tales from the Darkroom by Günter Grass

Germany’s literary superstar Günter Grass is obsessed with the past. His second memoir, The Box, challenges readers to distinguish between fact and fiction in latter half of the author’s life. His unconventional approach might undermine the memoir form, but the result is a compelling account of Grass’ compulsion to write.


Essays |

Bridges and Barriers: Polyphony and Its Translation in Nathacha Appanah’s The Last Brother

Jennifer Solheim examines the polyphony of both Natacha Appanah’s The Last Brother and the translation process in general. In this essay, she reveals how language structure impacts emotional resonance in the narrative—and for the reader.


Reviews |

Once Upon a River, by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell’s charisma is formidable, and her energy infectious. This same energy can be found in the churning rivers and restless characters of her new novel, the follow-up to Campbell’s acclaimed story collection American Salvage. The protagonist of Once Upon a River is Margo Crane, a teenager who has grown up along the fictional Stark River, obeying its currents and snooping for its secrets.


Shop Talk |

Book of the Week: Everything Beautiful Began After, by Simon Van Booy

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 […]


Interviews |

Mishpocha and Beyond: An Interview with Erika Dreifus

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.


Interviews |

Never the Cool Kid: An Interview with Jeff Kass

Pioneer High School students Carlina Duan and Allison Kennedy sit down with famed Ann Arbor writing teacher and teen center director Jeff Kass to discuss his recent story collection, Knuckleheads. Kass discusses knuckleheadedness as a state of being, why being an outsider is important, the influence of Springsteen on his fiction, and the reason he wrote this book—in part—for his students. Bonus Track: an original off-the-top-of-the-dome list poem by Kass on “happiness.”


Essays |

In Other Words

Raised in Greece during its period of intensive Westernization, Giota Tachtara lived all her life among things that had two names, two qualities, two associations, and two accents: one in Greek and one in English. Now, as an American resident, she roots through her bilingual bookcase and writes about the narrator in her head who’s caught in the middle.


Shop Talk |

License to Write: Further Thoughts on Author Bios

Have you noticed that more and more often, writer bios emphasize everything about the author’s life but writing? Authors list their credentials from the odd jobs they’ve worked: door-to-door knife salesman, pig farmer, department store perfume-sprayer—okay, I made those up, but pick up virtually any book by an up-and-coming author and you’ll see that they’re not far afield. Writer Edan Lepucki discusses this phenomenon in an insightful essay on The Millions: Or is my annoyance at the non-standard bio about something else? With the authors who have held a dozen, motley jobs, I worry that book writing is just a […]




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