Author Archive

Constructing Selves: Character in Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum’s “Accomplice”

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I’ve written before about the magic I find, as a writer and reader, in the world of the school as a setting for fiction. Like most of my predilections when it comes to literature, gravitating toward this world isn’t really a conscious choice.

To Dream

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There’s nothing quite like a new baby for creating an obsession with all things sleep-related. My second daughter was born on December 6th, and in our dark bedroom at night, my brain is full of the same whirring calculations I remember from my older daughter’s first few weeks.

The Effects of Children

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My second daughter is due on December 11th. A couple of months back, I wrote about how all-consuming I was already finding this period of waiting; now, of course, I’m swollen to bursting with it.

Launching

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Today, my first book launches. It’s kind of a wonderful word, launch: such propulsive force in its sound. Such muscular, fearless leaping. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d take a look at launchings of various kinds in literature. Not gradual beginnings, not slow evolutions into different forms, but sudden

A Held Breath: Alice Munro’s “Tricks” and Waiting in Literature

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I am in the midst of an anticipating season. My first book comes out in a month; my second baby will be born in a little over two. I’m finding that in terms of productivity right now I’m pretty useless.

On Music and Story

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I had a professor in college who maintained that writers write about artists in other disciplines—painters, musicians, sculptors, etc.—when they want to write about writers without actually writing about writers. There’s probably something to this.

Bodily Shifts

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I’m currently about five months pregnant with our second child, and I’m finding this state no less strange the second time around. It’s plenty of other things too—miraculous, exciting, fascinating, wonderful—and I’m very grateful for it; but in describing the actual daily, bodily experience, that’s the word that first

Five Fabulist Sentences

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As a reader, I’m a sentence-collector: for their sound, and also for the fascination of inspecting one small, discrete piece of something and seeing what it has to say about the whole.

What Fiction Means

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There isn’t much that will make you more aware of a book’s message, and leerier of it, than reading it aloud to a child. Maybe this explains why I seem to have discovered books with such inordinately terrible messages during the three-plus years I’ve been reading to my daughter.

Long and Short of It

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In the term short story, “short” is a little baggy. You might find, within a collection of short stories, some that are a few pages, some that are thirty or more. Compared to a five-hundred-page novel, of course, neither of these is a long piece of writing. Both are