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Exploring the art of prose

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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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Conversations Between Friends: Sadie Hoagland and John McNally

April 13, 2021

  SADIE HOAGLAND: John, I so enjoyed reading The Fear of Everything. Each story balances humor and darkness so well, and each piece held the sort of “good surprises” I love in fiction—the unexpected turns. I think one of my…

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Conversations Between Friends: Nancy Au and Olga Zilberbourg

March 30, 2021

  At the beginning of October, 2019, Nancy Au and Olga Zilberbourg celebrated the publication of their books Spider Love Song and Other Stories and Like Water and Other Stories. The E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore of Oakland, CA,…

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Time Stamps: Eleven Ways of Managing the Clock in Memoir

March 23, 2021

  By Beth Kephart • All memoirists are ultimately marking time. They denounce or embrace chronology. They deploy fragments or amaranthine circles to supersede the clock. They suggest, by their very storytelling structures and frames, that the sequence of remembering…

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Interview: Jo Ann Beard

March 16, 2021

  Jo Ann Beard’s third book, Festival Days, is a truehearted work of art. Nine pieces lean into life’s difficult decisions and the daunting beauty within moments of uncertainty. Her writing masters precision in language, emotional urgency, and grief’s complexities.…

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Character Revealed Indirectly in Emma Cline’s “A/S/L”

March 9, 2021

  By Jessica Lampard • Revealing character—not just how a character serves the story, but who they are beneath their public persona—is the bedrock of all good fiction. It’s how real truths about human nature take hold within our imagination.…

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