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Exploring the art of prose

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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

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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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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