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Exploring the art of prose

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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

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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Hybrid Interview: Amber Sparks

April 28, 2020

  Essay by J. A. Tyler • Sure, 2019 gave us Greta Gerwig’s powerful Little Women and the heroine Rey dominating galactic folks in the final chapter of the Star Wars saga, but we’ve yet to see pay equalized between…

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Women of Conscience: On Alice Mattison

April 21, 2020

  By Leena Soman Navani • Alice Mattison has published a poetry collection, seven novels, four short story collections, and a book about writing fiction. She began her writing career more than five decades ago. Professionally, perhaps the only thing…

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Time and Interiority in David Means’s “The Chair”

April 14, 2020

  By Kent Kosack • Prose shines, comes into its own as a medium, when writers make the internal conflicts we all suffer through, each and every second, external. I don’t mean simply dramatization in the form of scenes. I…

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Art of the Opening: Melissa Ragsly

April 7, 2020

  In a 2015 review in The Los Angeles Times, the late Pulitzer Prize–winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold describes an amuse-bouche at Le Comptoir in Koreatown as “a course that takes a cook 10 minutes to plate and that you…

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Hybrid Interview: Madeline ffitch

March 24, 2020

  By Candace Walsh • “We live in a world that has unconstrained wildness, and we like to forget we are part of that wildness,” says Madeline ffitch, author of PEN/Hemingway Award–finalist Stay and Fight. Fiction that only acknowledges characters’…

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Nonstop Oracle: Everlastingness in Rachel Cusk’s OUTLINE

March 17, 2020

  By Mark Gozonsky • 1 My favorite books explore the contours of the narrator’s brain, and I’ve never read anything that does this so well as Rachel Cusk’s Outline. I first encountered the striking cover image on the windowsill…

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