I always get a little nervous when a fictional character broadcasts loudly and forcefully what he wants. It’s the definitiveness that makes me uncomfortable, because that clarity of desire kicks off an unhealthy obsession; in the end, disappointment seems inevitable.
Every once in a while the short story gets its moment in the literary spotlight. It happened in 2008 when Elizabeth Strout’s linked story collection, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize; and again in 2013 when the Nobel Prize committee recognized Alice Munro’s lifetime achievement in the form.
Paul Ruffin had me at the title. It wasn’t the spectacle of the hog-killing I was drawn to so much as the way he undercuts the brutality to focus our attention on the weather. I liked the juxtaposition, the audacity of deflecting our attention from the sensational to the
When I started this series back in July, my plan was to write about a single Ploughshares story in each post, focusing on what each story might teach us about writing fiction. That a pattern in my story choice would emerge was unexpected.
It seems that every book I’ve read recently has a talking animal in it. A new favorite is Max Porter’s novel, which begins with a protagonist opening the door to find a life-sized crow on his doorstep. The bird picks the man up, cradles him in his wings.
As a teacher, I am occasionally accused of lingering. One poem by Emily Dickinson can fill an entire class. An hour isn’t too long to unpack the final page of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.