Posts by: Marisa Siegel

Modern Man Defined

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Yesterday, Rumpus columnist Thomas Page McBee kicked off his new series, “The American Man,” over at the Pacific Standard. Featuring “gonzo reporting from barber shops, boxing gyms, frat houses, and other bastions of masculinity in an effort to define what makes a modern man,” the writing will also form the basis for McBee’s next book.

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Irresistible Narrators and Riveting Scenes with Steve Almond

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Rumpus columnist and friend Steve Almond is teaching two classes at the Grotto in San Francisco on July 19th!

How to Write Riveting Scenes will investigate what it takes to keep readers on the edge of their seats, while How to Create Irresistible Narrators examines the work of Nabokov, Salinger, Austen, and others in an effort to make sure your next narrator isn’t just strong, but irresistible.

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The Future of English

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Are English departments dying? Or, are they simply changing to meet the wants and needs of today’s students? Emory University professor Marc Bousquet argues it’s the latter, and sees more change ahead:

If universities like mine are still offering doctorates in English 10 years from now, the programs won’t resemble the lit-only degrees at Yale or Columbia.

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Writing “the very stuff of life”

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Today in unusual writing jobs: an inside look at what it’s like to be an obituary news writer for the New York Times.

Each day, it is our job to come to know such strangers intimately, inhaling their lives through telephone calls to their families, through newspaper and magazine profiles culled from electronic databases and through the crumbling yellowed clippings from the Times morgue that can fall to dust in our fingers as we read them.

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UMass Amherst Celebrates 50 Years of MFA Writing!

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Online literary magazine Route Nine released a special alumni issue to celebrate the UMass Amherst MFA for Poets & Writers’s 50th Anniversary. Route Nine is edited by Rumpus Tumblr editor Molly McArdle.

In addition, the W. E. B. Du Bois Library inaugurated an MFA Special Collection featuring five decades of ephemera from program participants and The Massachusetts Review has released a special issue celebrating fifty years of the MFA for Poets & Writers.

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A 21st Century Kind of Poet

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At The Millions, Michael Bourne writes about the stunning success of poet Tess Taylor’s debut collection, The Forage House, and technology’s hand in making it happen:

When writers talk about literature in the digital age, they tend to lay out one nightmare scenario after another: books losing value as they migrate onto screens, publishing houses shedding jobs, readers snuggling up with cable shows on their iPads rather than books.

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The Works Behind the Work

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Over at the New Yorker, Meg Wolitzer writes about the cultural influences that helped inform her novel The InterestingsThey include Archie comics, folk music, and Michael Apted’s “Up” films”:

A good chunk of what you need to know about the characters in the “Up” films is right there in their childhoods, and I suppose that’s true in many novels, too; and yet you often still need life to just continue to unspool like an old Bell and Howell projector gone amok in order to get the whole story.

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The Elusive Happy Ending

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Happy endings are hard to come by in great literature, especially in stories that center on affluent American suburbs and their inhabitants. Over at the Atlantic, writer Ted Thompson looks at the hopeful and redemptive (but still believable) dramatic climax of John Cheever’s “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill”:

This is one of the things that’s so apparent when you’re reading Cheever: his openness to redemptive beauty.

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“A Bitter Cup of Tea” Worth Drinking

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Electric Literature has a new review up for Rumpus columnist Jerry Stahl‘s latest book, Happy Mutant Baby Pills:

Jerry Stahl’s Happy Mutant Baby Pills is a hurricane of comedic and satirical horrors involving drug abuse, violence, manic lovers (including their manic sex lives), and ungodly revenge against the United States. Stahl ventures unapologetically through the darkest imaginable places.

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All Roads Lead to Writing

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Over at The Millions, Rumpus contributor Nick Ripatrazone looks at the many and varied paths that bring writers to the profession and considers the benefits of time spent studying subjects other than creative writing:

Although I have drifted toward the science of syntax, I think about the positives of studying content that is not literary.

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Fiction in the Digital Age

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Serialized fiction is experiencing a resurgence, and we have technology to thank.

Back in 2012, The Silent History brought the serialized novel to our iPhones (check out our interview with co-author Kevin Moffett here). And now, there’s Wattpad. The New York Times takes an in-depth look the app, which sees “more than two million writers producing 100,000 pieces of material a day for 20 million readers on an intricate international social network.”

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