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Exploring the art of prose

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Flesh and Blood Ideas in J.M. Coetzee’s ELIZABETH COSTELLO

August 3, 2021

  By Maggie Kast • When I’ve given a character my own thoughts on a subject close to my heart, I’ve heard critiques of my writing like, “Sounds authorial,” or, “Your character wouldn’t say that—those are your ideas.” Explication by…

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The Second Iceberg Theory

July 27, 2021

  By Matthew Duffus • Every fiction writer I know is familiar with Ernest Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory,” explained most succinctly in Death in the Afternoon, his nonfiction book on bullfighting: “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he…

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Hybrid Interview: Tyler Gillespie

July 13, 2021

  Essay by Sam Risak • “Florida man arrested for calling 911 after kitten denied entry into strip club.” “Florida man once arrested for fighting drag queen with tiki torch runs for mayor.” “Florida man killed by alligator while hiding…

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Art of the Opening: What Is It Like to Be a Protagonist?

July 6, 2021

  How Alexander Weinstein establishes experiential reality right off the bat As much as we love being immersed in the expansive world of a novel, story collections have a notable advantage over novels: variety of characters, circumstances, themes and, crucially…

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A Jump to the Left, and Then a Step to the Right: Lateral Lyric Moves

June 29, 2021

  By Heidi Czerwiec • I come late to creative nonfiction, after decades of writing and training and teaching and researching as a poet. While I feel I’m still playing catch-up with the standards of nonfiction craft, what I bring…

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Hybrid Interview: Kiare Ladner

June 22, 2021

  Essay by April Yee • How do we reconstruct a self that has been erased? Whether the erasure is the result of forces macro (a police state) or micro (an abusive parent), what remains is the need to fill…

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Writing the Complete Character: Frank Budgen on James Joyce

June 15, 2021

  By Mark David Kaufman • James Joyce once observed that he had included so many “enigmas and puzzles” in Ulysses that professors would be preoccupied with the book “for centuries”—an effective way, he added, of “insuring one’s immortality.” Such…

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Art of the Opening: Close Reading II

June 1, 2021

  I can’t recall why I first picked up the old hardback copy of Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories at the Akron Public Library. The cover was creased, the color of chimney smoke, speckled with sticky black dots and abrading at…

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Hybrid Interview: Melissa Broder

May 11, 2021

  Essay by J. A Tyler • Milk Fed made me want to ingest a mountain of delicious, sugary, fatty foods—donuts, chips, pizza, candy—then sprint into the arms of some lusty entanglement. Yet the novel also gave me bouts of…

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Art of the Opening: Peter Selgin and YOUR FIRST PAGE

May 4, 2021

  Suzanne Grove: On your list of “Seven Deadly Sins: Common Errors,” creating false suspense via the withholding of information earns the second spot. I appreciate the distinction you make between what you call “plot questions” and questions that tease…

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