>

Exploring the art of fiction

Menu

CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

Tarot Cards and Counting Cats: Writers as Magical Thinkers

February 18, 2020

  By Emma Sloley • Seven is the optimal number of cats. Four is acceptable but dicey, and only three is worth getting nervous about. Any fewer than three is cause for great mental anguish and an absolute certainty that…

Read More

Point of View Amplifies Theme in Zadie Smith’s “Crazy They Call Me”

February 11, 2020

  By Candace Walsh • In Zadie Smith’s short story “Crazy They Call Me,” the author makes the unconventional choice to present Billie Holiday as a second-person-singular narrator. This strikes me as a literary high-wire act, plausibly the result of…

Read More

Ugly Love: Character as Plot in Mary Gaitskill’s DON’T CRY

January 21, 2020

  By Melissa Benton Barker • The stories in Mary Gaitskill’s collection Don’t Cry are like tiny mirrors held close, all the pores and blemishes of her characters offered up for the readers’ inspection. Published in 2009, the collection scrupulously…

Read More

Dialogue as Character (and Narrative) Complexity in Monica McFawn’s “Out of the Mouths of Babes”

January 14, 2020

  By Gwendolyn Edward • I’ve often battled with how to better develop secondary characters in short stories that use a limited, third-person point of view. While I’ve learned how to use my main character’s memories and current thoughts to…

Read More

Diane Williams and a Taxonomy of Flash Fiction Endings

November 12, 2019

  By Matthew Duffus • In a June 2014 interview with The White Review, Diane Williams described one of her writing goals as “to provide some mystery, a place to meditate, where I might be nearing a new insight, if…

Read More

Suspense in Flannery O’Connor’s “The River”

October 29, 2019

  By Alyson Mosquera Dutemple • Long before we discover that the main character, a little boy named Harry, will drown in the final moments of Flannery O’Connor’s “The River,” we are unsettled while reading the story. On the surface,…

Read More

Hybrid Interview: Shane Jones

October 22, 2019

Essay by J.A. Tyler • There was something about Shane Jones’s new novel Vincent and Alice and Alice that held me at bay. I’m a huge fan of his work, loved his previous novels, have admired his style for years.…

Read More

Withholding Information in Nathan Englander’s “Reunion”

October 15, 2019

  By David Saltzman • As students of fiction, we’re often taught that in crafting a story, the writer should rigidly mete out information, ensuring that a reader is always, without exception, situated as to speaker, scene, and story. When…

Read More

Self-Salvation, Structure, and Sex Part II: Intertextuality in Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch”

October 8, 2019

  By Candace Walsh • In Jess Walter’s “Famous Actor” and Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch,” the authors use intertextuality as a structural element: a rhythmic, outside-of-time interruption of the chronological main story. Simultaneously, each of the female narrators…

Read More

What Tells You

September 24, 2019

  By Gabriel Brownstein • For years, I’ve assigned Joan Didion’s essay “Why I Write” to my fiction writing workshops. For me, as a short story writer, there are two crucial sentences in the essay. Didion precedes these sentences with…

Read More