Ben Fountain Archive
August in the U.S. means football. It suffocates bar-stool conversation, seeps into family gossip. The whole business is as inextricable from the American identity as Protestantism. I can’t help wondering how an institution so all-encompassing has managed to dodge the pages of literary journals and publisher’s catalogs.
It is fitting that the bowerbird roosts in the opening lines of Ted Hughes’s poem “A Literary Life,” for there is perhaps no better mascot for reader and writer both. The species is a known collector, spending the better part of the year building complicated huts from assorted novelties:
Up until that short story workshop I took my junior year of college, my TBR pile was made up of a bizarre mix of Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, and Bill Bryson. Then my professor passed around photocopied packets containing stories by Lorrie Moore, Grace Paley, and Tim O’Brien, and I realized there was more