Reading Archive

The Lonely Reader (Part Three)

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Guest post by Greg Schutz. Part one of this post appears here. Part two, here. Elle magazine’s review of Julie Orringer’s 2003 story collection How to Breathe Underwater contains the following preposterous, but sadly typical, statement: “Each story delivers the satisfying details and emotional heft of a novel.” The
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This Is Not a Breakup Letter

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Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman Dear Djuna, Look. It’s nothing personal, but every time I start reading Nightwood, I get four pages in and quit. Even T.S. Eliot writes, in his introduction to the novel, “When I first read the book I found the opening movement rather slow
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The Lonely Reader (Part Two)

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Guest post by Greg Schutz. Part One of this post appears here. I’m far from the first to suggest that, in spite of the form’s name, brevity should not be considered the defining feature of the short story. As Frank O’Connor contends in his seminal 1963 study of the
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The Lonely Reader (Part One)

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Guest post by Greg Schutz “I have always wondered why short stories aren’t more popular in this country,” muses Barbara Kingsolver in her introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2001. “We Americans are such busy people you’d think we’d jump at the chance to have our literary wisdom
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Objects of Affection

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Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman It was 2000, late September. I was twenty years old, studying abroad in Italy, and on my way to Munich on a train. Just before boarding, I picked up a copy of Anne Michaels’¬†Fugitive Pieces. I didn’t have a lot of extra spending
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In Review: ‘Gold Boy, Emerald Girl’

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This week, we invite you to read guest blogger Fan Wu‘s review of Yiyun Li’s new story collection, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl. It was published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday.
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Your Misery, Your Morphia: Thoughts on Charles Baxter and “Spiritual” Fiction

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Guest post by Greg Schutz In “Gershwin’s Second Prelude,” the first story in Charles Baxter‘s first book, the 1984 collection Harmony of the World, the elderly piano instructor Madame Gutowski leans back to admonish Kate, her pupil. “Now listen,” she says. “You children think you are so new with
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Learning the Taste of Stone

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Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman Donald Hall is a thing of beauty. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak–seeing him speak–twice at Bennington. The second was in June 2009–six weeks after my first child was born, a week after attending my beloved mother-in-law, Anna’s, memorial service, and
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Literary Conversations

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Guest post by Carol Keeley It began, like most obsessions, in a used bookstore on Broadway. Late one afternoon, I was listlessly foraging for food and stopped to browse pre-loved books in my old Chicago neighborhood. I venture to say that most people most of the time experience the
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The Conceit of Wisdom

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Guest post by Carol Keeley Garrison Keillor kicked the beehive with his recent death-of-publishing op-ed. The reaction was vigorously optimistic, with a little messenger-mocking. The backdrop to this volley was BookExpo America, widely described as funereal. As usual, I agree with everyone. Keillor is right that the era of
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