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Exploring the art of prose

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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

Art of the Opening: Laura van den Berg

August 4, 2020

  A friend tells you a story. It makes you pause each time you enter the bathroom, eyes sliding to the linen closet. Each time you pull a fresh bath towel from the shelf, the warm musk of cedar reaching…

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An Analysis of the Narrative Voice in Yoko Ogawa’s THE DIVING POOL

July 28, 2020

  By Geoffrey Miller • A different woman character narrates each of the trio of novellas in Yoko Ogawa’s collection The Diving Pool. In the opening, titular piece there’s Aya, a school-aged girl living at a countryside orphanage run by…

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This or That: Simultaneity in John O’Hara’s BUTTERFIELD 8

July 7, 2020

  By Ian Randall Wilson • When I wrote in third person, it was in third-person close. The concerns of simultaneity didn’t occupy much of my attention. There may be a flaw in my thinking here, but my reasoning was…

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The Grind: Revelatory Repetition in Edward P. Jones’s “An Orange Line Train to Ballston”

June 30, 2020

  By Alyson Mosquera Dutemple • In the very first line of his story “An Orange Line Train to Ballston,” Edward P. Jones signals to readers to expect repetition and recurrence throughout the rest of the piece: “The first time…

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On (Not) Writing the Bar Story Part II: The Instructor

June 24, 2020

  By Mike Goodwin • In my brief career teaching fiction workshops, the bar story has appeared too often as a genre vying for literariness. Students have written about debauchery at house parties, barns, parks, cemeteries, and, of course, bars.…

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On (Not) Writing the Bar Story Part I: The Amateur Writer

June 23, 2020

  By Mike Goodwin • I once earned a well-deserved reaming for my writing an awful story involving who I viewed as lower-class patrons inhabiting a dive bar. The narrative too often emphasized these characters giving each other the business…

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Hybrid Interview: Gayle Brandeis

June 16, 2020

  “We want you to know how we lived. That we lived. That we were girls before we were game. That we were alive.”   Essay by Melissa Benton Barker • Gayle Brandeis’s recent novel-in-verse, Many Restless Concerns (a testimony):…

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Art of the Opening: Raymond Carver and Crafting a Hook

June 2, 2020

  I am heaving in the southwestern corner of an open-air outlet mall five days before Christmas. This is the desperate and empty sort of heaving required to stop a sob and close off the valve of emotion. A hiccuping…

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Empathy as Craft: James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

May 19, 2020

  By Gerry Stanek • James Baldwin finds a unique way to interiority in “Sonny’s Blues,” which was first published in 1957. I say unique, because I’m not sure there’s another story like this; a character’s thoughts and perceptions are…

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An Extremely Disorganized Life: Osamu Dazai’s NO LONGER HUMAN

May 12, 2020

  By Peter Selgin • The older I get, the less interested I am as both reader and writer in things are that—or that feel—“made up.” Put in positive terms, the more attracted I am to stories and novels that…

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