Tag Archives: fiction

Bringing Darwin Into Your Fiction: A Few Things Creative Writers Might Consider

A key element in Charles Darwin’s thought is that survival and the opportunity to reproduce attends the fittest and the sexiest. Think about this Darwinian insight in relation to your writing: what would a Darwinian reading of your story notice? … Continue reading

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Narrative is Good for You

That’s the thesis of classicist, philosopher, and legal scholar Martha Nussbaum (b. 1947) in her essay, “The Narrative Imagination” (1997). How is it good for you? On Nussbaum’s account, it expands and trains your noticing, theorizing, and moral capacities. Here’s a … Continue reading

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The Coexist Bumper Sticker v. The Fiction Bumper Sticker

I assume you’ve all seen the above bumper sticker before (it’s pretty common in California where I live).  But someone recently made a new bumper sticker that offers a pretty direct (and amusing) gnu atheist retort: This recalls for me MIT … Continue reading

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Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” in Real-Time! A Brazilian Man Walks in on His Own Funeral!

For the story’s brevity, emotional accessibility, and ironic shock value, it seems customary nowadays for English instructors to start introductory literature courses with Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” Chopin’s story is about a man who has died in an accident—or at least … Continue reading

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Close Literary Reading 101: Noticing Narration

I thought it might be fun (at least for me) to lay out, in a series of short blog posts, some of the basic terms and ideas that I present to my students when talking about the “close reading” of literary texts. … Continue reading

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Close Literary Reading 101: Stories and Style

I thought it might be fun (at least for me) to lay out, in a series of short blog posts, some of the basic terms and ideas that I present to my students when talking about the “close reading” of literary texts. Maybe … Continue reading

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Great Short Story Beginnings Watch: Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

Damn, this is some good writing! I’m hooked from the get-go. And I like the description of the mother with the “green head-kerchief.” The beginning of Flannery O’Connor’s classic, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”: The grandmother didn’t want to … Continue reading

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Quote of the Day: “Got up. . . . Wrote book. Went out, bought bottle of wine. Came home, cooked dinner. Drank wine.”

From Michael Dirda’s review of Julian Barnes’s book, NOTHING TO BE FRIGHTENED OF: Beautifully done might also justly describe Nothing to Be Frightened Of. A friend once summed up Julian Barnes’s own daily existence: “Got up. . . . Wrote … Continue reading

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Russian Formalist, Victor Shklovsky, on DEFAMILIARIZATION as One of the Essential Roles of Art and Literature (1917)

Victor Shklovsky coined the term “defamiliarization” to describe the role that art and literature can play in turning us around in the world (so that we see things with fresh eyes): Habituation devours works, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the … Continue reading

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Corot Painting (1867)—And a Bit of Fanciful Writing to Accompany It

The river, undisturbed by human voice or body, and untouched by empty boat or bird, quietly, and ever so slightly, tugged at the cold sheet of the sky, and all that reflected upon it, as if the river wanted to pull heaven and earth itself on a … Continue reading

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Joyce Carol Oates on Creating Characters in Fiction

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Slate Reviews James Wood’s New Book, “How Fiction Works”

Slate yesterday had an interesting review of New Yorker book critic James Wood’s new book. Money quote: I hope this isn’t taken the wrong way, but by the end of How Fiction Works, I felt as though I had just read a … Continue reading

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