Friday, January 29, 2010

A Story I Keep Remembering...

I didn't write about this story when I first read it. I think it's possible I hadn't yet started this blog. Or I was busy. But I want to mention:

Yearlight Savings Time by Kevin Griffith. Published in the August '09 issue of PANK.

This is fantastical fiction about Americans trying to relive a year exactly as it happened the year before in an attempt to stave off the end of the world. The story centers on one man, the narrator. His personal hopes and failures are perfectly interwoven into the story of a world struggling to relive the past in order to have a future.

It's fantastical fiction at its best because it makes you think AND feel. Given how many stories I read, I think it's a sign of this one's power that it keeps returning to me. So I wanted to mention it.

And encourage you to read it if you haven't.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Steve Almond on the Newer Generations of Writers

If you’ve never had the opportunity to listen to Steve Almond give a talk, that’s a damn shame. But here’s a taste of Almond courtesy of The Splinter Generation (where I do some fiction editing).

He’s got great things to say. What caught my eye was something he said about younger writers:

The main thing I see in the writing is this strain of what I call “hysterical lyricism.” Certain younger writers are just so saturated by visual media that they feel like the only way that plain old words will hold someone’s attention is if they’re all really dramatic and urgent and sort of panicked. It’s like they’ve lost their faith in traditional storytelling. The result is a lot of confusing stories and novels. Needlessly confusing. It’s too bad, because people are always going to need stories to feel less alone. And we should recognize that.

Interesting comment about younger writers being over-saturated with other media. I think that’s very true. Everyone wants not just my attention but my heart and soul, too. They’re not happy with me simply buying their product. They want me to love it. To make it a part of my identity. I think addressing that over-saturation is probably going to be one of the key concerns of the newer generations of writers. But I also think Almond is right to lament needlessly confusing stories. The idea is to connect because we’re so disconnected. Confusing the reader just creates a greater disconnect.

Take a moment to read the rest of what Almond has to say.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Looking at Photographs of Sean

In the new JMWW, Sean Lovelace has a wonderful story about possibly himself or possibly a character named Sean as described by a photographer who has been taking pictures of Sean for years. It’s called, ”Ten Notes on Photographing Sean” and is in the style of short story I call vignette fiction.

I’m fascinated by this form. It’s basically a deconstruction of narrative into pieces that are arranged not with a plot arch but with an emotional one instead. As a reader, we don’t follow a A to B to C narrative line but rather an A + Q + F line that equals something other than a resolution. It equals an understanding.

“Ten Notes” does this so well. There’s such a growing sense of frustration in the photographer narrator and such a sense of performance, of hiding that isn’t fully successful from the character Sean. The combination leaves me with a yearning. And I like being left with emotion. Particularly want.

Take a moment to read it and see what you think.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Touch Me" Live at JMWW

I love JMWW. Really great quarterly. And I'm so glad to have my story "Touch Me" in the current issue.

Very cool.