Series Archive

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “The Ritualist” by Anne-Marie Kinney

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
A few weeks back I wrote a column about “Optimism” by Angie Kim. In her story, the main character suffers a recent traumatic event, and in her grief, produces a ritual around it. Anne-Marie Kinney’s wonderful story “The Ritualist” (Alaska Quarterly Review, Fall/Winter 2014) explores the nature of rituals
<

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “We Knew Horses” by James Miranda

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
We often call a story vivid because of its language and sensory details, whether they be in the tradition of writers like Faulkner (ornate) or Hemingway (spare). James Miranda’s story, “We Knew Horses,” in this fall’s Cimarron Review (Issue 158) does a masterful job using language and details of
<

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Night Island” by Mary Helen Specht

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
I’m a believer that some story shapes lend themselves more readily to pieces of different lengths. The shape of Mary Helen Specht’s story, “Night Island” (Prairie Schooner, Winter 2014), is risky and surprising, and might not work as well in a longer story or novel. But it’s what allows
<

Literary Blueprints: The Mad Woman

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
In this second installment of the Literary Blueprints series, we’ll look at the Mad Woman. Don’t forget to read the first Blueprint, The Byronic Hero. Origin Story: Also referred to as “The Mad Woman in the Attic,” this character type hails from the dark side of Jane Eyre. Bertha
<

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Taxonomy” by Alix Ohlin

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
The opening sections of Alix Ohlin’s wonderful short story “Taxonomy,” (TriQuarterly 146) shows how a simple plot can open into a compelling mystery through just a few quick descriptions. In the first scene, the narrator Ed stops at a roadside Amish gift shop to try to find an appropriate
<

The Five Families of Mob Literature

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
There aren’t many books that are the best. I have favorites; we all do. Awards committees and English departments do. There are classics and The Best American Short Stories and all the rest, but how many books can you say, without second-guessing yourself, without blushing or adding, “I think,”
<

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Optimism” by Angie Kim

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
In Richard Bausch’s classic short story, “What Feels Like the World,” the looming grief over a mother’s death is conveyed through an impending vault at an elementary school gymnastics demonstration. In Amy Hempel’s classic, “When It’s Human Instead of When It’s Dog,” the tragic death of a spouse is
<

Indie Spotlight: Queen’s Ferry Press

Author: | Categories: Publishing, Series No comments
Queen’s Ferry Press, based out of Plano, Texas, since 2011, is the brainchild of Erin McKnight. While it’s hardly the first independent press with the lofty goal of printing and promoting the best literary fiction, in just a few short years Queen’s Ferry has managed to attract an impressive
<

Do-Overs: Text Redux

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
I love art from other art. Ballets inspired by narratives. Garments influenced by architecture. Paintings that translate sound into color. Recognizable connections light up our synapses. We like things that remind us of other things, particularly if the connections are clever. (How else do you explain the popularity of
<

Second Time’s the Charm

Author: | Categories: Series, Writing, Writing Advice No comments
We’re better at most things the second time around. Poaching eggs. Seventh grade. Guessing which hand the marble is in. Writers might not be better at things by the second book, but at least we’re better prepared. (And I’m talking here about the publication process, the “your book is
<