Author Archive

Orthodoxy, Humor, and the Bookstore of Your Dreams: An Interview with Michael Lowenthal

Author: | Categories: Book Reviews, Writing No comments
To open any of Michael Lowenthal’s novels is to be struck by the visceral power of his images.  From a woman’s “depthless smile” to a man with a belly like a rucksack, from flags snapping in the wind at a WWI parade to a description of an adolescent boy’s

On Improvisation: a Farewell (For Now) to Blogging

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When asked about the experience of improvising Two Thousand Year Old Man with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner famously said, “I always tried for something that would force him to go into a panic—because a brilliant mind in panic is a wonderful thing to see.” Panic (or, to use less

On Quietness: an Interview with Brian Morton

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It wasn’t long into my semester in Brian Morton’s graduate fiction workshop at NYU when I realized that the understated manner in which he led the class was misleading. On the page, that same writer who led class so unobtrusively was one of the toughest critics I’d encountered, examining

On Generosity of Thought—a Writer’s Gifts

Author: | Categories: Writing 5 Comments
On the June afternoon when I first joined Lesley’s MFA faculty, during a break between meetings, I carried my coffee to an outdoor table where several other faculty members were sitting and asked if I could join them. Wayne Brown, the Trinidadian writer I’d only just met, looked up.

The Physics of Fiction, the Music of Philosophy: an Interview with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Author: | Categories: Writing 1 Comment
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s astonishments as a philosopher and as a novelist are too numerous to list here. Already launched in her career as a philosophy professor, she reached a moment in her own life when philosophical inquiry no longer felt like a broad enough arena in which to explore

Reading Devoutly, Writing Devoutly

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 1 Comment
Although I’m not religious, there are days when I wish I could teleport my writing students back for just a few sessions of my childhood religious-study classes. Surely, those teachers who once schooled me in old-fashioned text learning didn’t think they were training me to be a fiction writer.

Learning to Listen: an Interview with Susan Power

Author: | Categories: Writing 2 Comments
When I first started reading Susan Power’s novel, The Grass Dancer, I knew little about her. We’d met briefly through a mutual friend, and I knew that Susan had been a fellow at Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute. I also knew from her bio that she was an enrolled member of

Compassing the Truth: Language in the Historical Novel

Author: | Categories: Writing 3 Comments
Writing a novel set in 17th Century London, I wrestle regularly with understanding my characters’ world. Have I done a good enough job comprehending their relationship to time? To daylight and darkness, to religion and mortality? I worry about getting the physical details of daily life right in the

Picking Up Where They Leave Off… an Interview with Randy Testa

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 1 Comment
Last week, I wrote about a disturbing trend I see in children’s movies. For this week’s post, I asked Randy Testa, Vice President of Education and Professional Development at Walden Media, to share some reflections on the process of adapting children’s books to screen. Randy Testa spent six years

Knocking Off Mom (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love G-Rated Murder)

Author: | Categories: Reading 13 Comments
I first noticed it when my daughter was three years old, but I kept my mouth shut. Who was I to spoil her enjoyment of classic children’s movies? Maybe I was imagining the trend. Still, once I’d started seeing it, I saw it everywhere…right there in front of me,