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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…

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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…

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Hybrid Interview: Garth Greenwell

January 28, 2020

  By Nicole Barney • Garth Greenwell’s second novel, Cleanness, revisits the territory of his debut, fleshing out the experiences of the narrator beyond those of his encounters with Mitko, a young man he meets in a public bathroom and…

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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…

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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…

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Hybrid Interview: Dustin M. Hoffman

December 17, 2019

  By Jesse Motte • When I read Dustin M. Hoffman’s first collection, One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist, during undergrad, it felt like I’d been suddenly gut-shot by some invisible, benevolent entity. The shock excited me. I prefer my writing like that: unforgiving…

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Repetition and Evolution: Structure in Robert Boswell’s CROOKED HEARTS

December 10, 2019

  By Amber Wheeler Bacon • In the third draft of my novel, I’m still messing with structure. It feels like I’ll always be messing with structure. To experiment, I’ve tried copying the frameworks of different novels I love: Purity…

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Hybrid Interview: Cathy Ulrich

November 19, 2019

  By Kate Finegan • The Pieces Left Behind In Cathy Ulrich’s debut flash fiction collection, Ghosts of You (Okay Donkey Press, 2019), the murdered lady sets the plot in motion. These forty stories are all named in the same…

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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…

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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,…

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