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Exploring the art of prose

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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

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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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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Art of the Opening: Move Fast and Make Things Happen

March 2, 2021

  When flash fiction works in fabulist ways “The speed is exhilarating,” Philip Pullman says of fairy tales in Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling, a collection of his perspectives on literary craft. Indeed, in little to no time at…

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Nonfiction Explosions: THE BEST OF BREVITY

February 16, 2021

  By Jacqueline Doyle • Flash fiction has gradually come to be recognized as an important literary form, though there are still writers who dismiss flash as a passing fad, less important than the short story. Often, they are the…

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Art of the Opening: Close Reading I

February 2, 2021

  If something nearing a primal pleasure skitters high up beneath your ribs and low in your gut when you read the first page of a story—if you experience a flume of anticipatory longing for the ways in which diction…

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Blood and Agency in Raven Leilani’s LUSTER

January 26, 2021

  By Candace Walsh • Raven Leilani’s Luster is a craft and theme kaleidoscope, every turned page yielding a new configuration of angles and juxtapositions. What happens in this novel—twenty-three year old Edie, a Black woman artist manquée working slackly…

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Hybrid Interview: Matthew Salesses

January 19, 2021

  Essay by Candace Eros Diaz • The first sentence of Matthew Salesses’s Craft in the Real World reads, “[T]his book is a challenge to accepted models of craft and workshop, to everything from a character-driven plot to the ‘cone…

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