Posts Tagged: The Millions

Places Where Art is Made

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We often look to metaphor for guidance in our constant search for the how and why of writing. In an essay at The Millions comparing writing to running, Nick Ripatrazone explains that training is not just an analogy for his creative process but an essential part of it:

Training sharpens ideas by cutting away the chaff that tends to accumulate during that long time on the trail, where the mind can wander; training blurs those ideas to the surreal places where art is made.

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Monkeying Through Literature

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For The Millions, Daniel O’Malley examines the appearance of monkeys in literature, dividing them into two categories: “the first involves stories that feature monkeys as prominent characters or focal points”; and the second, the one he is “most interested in,” concern “stories that don’t ask so much of their monkeys, stories that could arguably exist without these animals and suffer no serious loss of esteem.”

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Tangled Detectives

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While the novels’ detective protagonists pick their way with varying success through a maze of vexing people and circumstances, readers navigates their own tangled maze of contradictory conventions as the narratives hop from genre to genre, toying with readers’ expectations.

Over at The Millions, Tim Wirkus explores the labyrinth of Tana French’s intricate Dublin Murder Squad series.

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The Post-Apocalyptic Present

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For a smart writer, a ravaged future world also offers something like a perfect literary playground, a cleared field where everything from language to human psychology to social convention can be reconsidered and reframed, critiqued or reimagined.

The Millions reviews Quan Barry’s She Weeps Each Time You’re Born and looks at how it finds the post-apocalyptic future in the present of Vietnam.

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The End Has a Start

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I wasn’t sure that it was elegant, or even grammatically sound, but I did know it was just how my narrator—who spends the novel negotiating issues of privacy and voyeurism—would want the book to end. Grammatical or not, it was my last line, and I was sticking to it.

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Stop Worrying About What Comes Next

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At The MillionsJonathan Russell Clark analyzes several last sentences from well-known novels by Hemingway, Tolstoy, Morrison, and Roth. He pays particular attention to the craftsmanship necessary to write these sentences, and considers how last sentences work to reinforce larger themes within a novel:

For writers, the last sentences aren’t about reader responsibility at all — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop worrying about what comes next, because nothing does.

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The Stories at the Edges

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There are novels like Wide Sargasso Sea and Wicked and Mary Reilly that retell stories we know from new angles, and there are whole worlds of fanfiction letting new voices speak, as Anne Jamison’s recent book Fic demonstrates so well. But it’s the voices that speak from the edges of even those stories that interest me most, the further possibilities even retellings create, and the ways our attention might always be split between the story we’re being offered and awareness of those we are directed away from by the necessity of moving ahead.

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Word of the Day: Frigiferous

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(adj.); bearing or bringing cold; from the Latin frigus (“cold”)

There’s no denying it, as much as we might wish to: the Northern Hemisphere is in the midst of the coldest part of the year. We temper the icy storms with romantic images of thick woollen scarves and roaring fires and leftover roasted chestnuts, but the cold truth of the matter is, it’s frightfully frigiferous out there.

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Re-creations, Adaptations, and “Rip-offs”

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Jesus’ Son is often considered the seminal work of Denis Johnson’s career. But recently Johnson called the book a “rip-off” of Isaac Babel’s early 20th century work, Red Cavalry. For The Millions, Nathan Scott McNamara contests Johnson’s assertion, arguing that “rip-off” is not the proper word to describe the influence of Red Cavalry on the author’s story collection:

In Jesus’ Son, the stories and execution certainly have a lot in common with Red Cavalry and — in considering them closely — it seems right for Johnson to acknowledge his debt.

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This Incredible Writer and Thinker and Person

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For The Millions, Jonathan Russell Clark covers Little Brown’s new The David Foster Wallace Reader, touching upon what he calls the writer’s “metanonfiction.” He also discusses, among other things, his hopes for the volume:

… if this “Reader” accomplishes anything, it would be wonderful if some new Wallace fans emerged from its publication.

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