Posts Tagged: The Millions

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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Daum-isms

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Just to throw out a few other Daum-isms—here’s her description of Anthropologie: “A twirling motion in the form of an international brand”. Of Los Angeles: “a place where wildness and domestication are forever running into each other.” Of Nicole Kidman: “a walking Vermeer.” She’s pithy like a newspaper columnist needs to be, but she doesn’t gloss over life’s uncertainties and regrets.

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Robinson Renewed

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For The Millions, Alex Engebretson argues that despite the twenty-four year gap between the publication of Marilynne Robinson’s first and second novel, the author’s recurring themes and imagery present a “singular vision”:

Instead of an author who recreated herself late in her career, Robinson is one who has returned and renewed imaginative possibilities already latent within her first book.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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Story|Houston published a beautiful story this week in their Fall 2014 issue, all of which centers around the theme of family, functional or otherwise. “Termites” tells the story of Tamara, aka Tam or Tam-Tam, a youngish woman living in and trying to take care of/sell her family’s childhood home on Staten Island.

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