Call and Response

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Guest post by Greg Schutz As a reader, I’m fascinated by those moments when literary influence–which usually has a way of creeping up on an author, sneaking into her writing through some backdoor of the subconscious–moves out of the shadows and into the open, when an author acknowledges her

Anger Management

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Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman I’ve never worn anger well, especially the self-righteous kind. Last year I was in a park outside Raleigh, where a beautiful plot of farmland was being developed and new McMansion owners were shooing hikers away from parking on the street. I saw a

Why the Short Story Doesn’t Matter and Why You Shouldn’t Care

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The Lonely Reader, Part Four Guest post by Greg Schutz Three weeks ago, I began this series of posts with a simple question that’s been batted around a lot lately. To paraphrase: “Why, given the novel’s continuing viability and the increasing hustle and bustle of our society, is the

Staying With the Tension

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Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman When we were in elementary school, my sister and I would always cut our viewing of The Sound of Music short because: A) it was a seriously long movie, and B) I couldn’t stand to watch Rolf crouch down in his jodhpurs and

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

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

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

‘Know’ or ‘Don’t Know’

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Guest post by Fan Wu I once overheard a discussion between two MFA students. I was at a cafĂ© in Palo Alto–near Stanford–and they were sitting at a nearby table. One said the best writing advice he’d gotten was to “write what you know.” He said that having lived

Writing the Southern Landscape

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Guest post by Megan Mayhew Bergman The present state of the South is one wherein nothing can be taken for granted, one in which our identity is obscured and in doubt. In the past, the things that have seemed to many to make us ourselves have been very obvious

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