Alice Munro Archive

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.

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

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Nashua” by Sara Majka

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A critique often heard in creative writing workshops is that the protagonist of a story is too observational—read: passive—and not enough involved in the action, rendering a story that is either too “quiet” or a protagonist with too little at stake in the outcome of the plot. I think

The Past, Living

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For a person who loves writing and reading stories that take place in the past, I don’t seem to like the term historical fiction much. It tastes of dust to me. No doubt unfairly, I think of a certain kind of novel when I hear it. You know the

The Words Beneath the Sound: Music Inspired by Literature

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As Virginia Woolf famously observed, the best writing often begins with a rhythmical “wave in the mind,” an inner tempo around which syntax and diction are arranged, a guiding beat of artistic intuition that, when struck upon, makes it nearly impossible to set down the wrong word. Other writers

“Another Way to Honor the Book”: An Interview with Odette Drapeau

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Bookbinder Odette Drapeau has been internationally honored for her modern and dynamic approach to what is often considered a traditional craft. To Drapeau, the book is both “a visual and tactile object where the container and content can connect to generate other visions.” While continually experimenting with new concepts

Dear, Dear: The Intimacy of Letters

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Nobody writes letters anymore. Sometimes the lament strikes me as cranky, romanticized (I once heard a radio interview with a woman who’d decided to homeschool her children in large part because their school had cut out cursive writing). But it’s true that I’ve saved many of the rare handwritten

Depressing Graphs for Writers

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Remember this series of graphs from last month that depressed the hell out of everyone? The one that reminded us that no book from a woman’s point of view has won the Pulitzer in the last 16 years? We could cry about it, or we could look at some more

“Death!/ Plop.”: The Instructive Power of Very Bad Art

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In the basement of three small theaters in Massachusetts lives a collection of some of humankind’s worst artistic efforts: the Museum of Bad Art. Everything in the collection is gloriously, earnestly bad (the curators reject anything that seems bad by intention). You can go there. You should. The photograph

The Things I Haven’t Read

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Legend had it that a famous scholar of nineteenth century American literature visited my college to lecture, and someone asked him a question about Melville. He began his answer with “While I’ve never read Moby-Dick…” At this remove, I still question the man’s scholarship and sanity—but I do admire his