March 2011

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Poetry and Happiness

By Bill Manhire “Happiness writes white.” The Australian writer Clive James attributes this particular piece of wisdom to “that prolific aphorist, Anonymous.” It probably emerged, he thinks, “from Tin Pan Alley or Broadway, when somebody finally realised why most of the good love songs were about love lost.” I’d always seen the phrase attributed to Henri de Montherlant, who [...]

Ray Carver Video

His influence was huge among the authors in We Wanted to Be Writers and far beyond, but he never knew how vast his talents were.

Michelle Huneven Reading from “Blame”

Michelle Huneven Reading from “Blame”

Publisher’s Weekly had this to say about Michelle‘s third novel, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award: In this gripping tale, Huneven charts the parameters of guilt and how a young, wisecracking intellectual becomes a shadow of her former self . . . . Brilliant observations, excellent characters, spiffy dialogue and a [...]

Books by Jennie Fields’ Bed

Jennie says, “I have books by Richard Russo, Sue Miller, Ian McEwan (Amsterdam and Saturday), Joyce Carol Oates (The Falls), and all of Edith Wharton. I go back to Stegner and Carol Shields, Anne Tyler, Colm Toibin. And Revolutionary Road. Right now I am reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.  Next to the bed is Home [...]

Books by the Bed Now Weekly Feature

Books by the Bed Now Weekly Feature

Since the first edition of our Books by the Bed series appeared, it’s become increasingly obvious we’re all vicarious connoisseurs of literature—as well as Wallace’s Froot Loops writing—hungry for glimpses of what everyone else is reading. We’ll be doing a lot of bed-hopping in the coming weeks, sneaking peeks at the volumes stacked next to [...]

Would Writing Longhand Help?

  GORDON MENNENGA — I think fiction was better when it was physically harder to write. Margaret Atwood wrote about her favorite pen. I have my students write a piece in longhand, then type it, and we talk about the differences; they said they thought harder about word choices writing longhand.   ALLAN GURGANUS — [...]

What It Means to Be a Writer Today: Part 6

The Problem with Good Books By Don Wallace When we asked whether Bad Books ruin us for Good Writing, it was a bit of a softball question, as Bad Books are part of the same cultural arc that acclaims White Castle sliders and “Dancing with the Stars” and Kill Bill, Vol 1—part of our All-American [...]

Allan Gurganus Video

Allan Gurganus Video

In this fall 2010 interview, Allan talks about his mentors, his students, and the celestial peers with whom he came of age. The heady mix of talents led to what he calls “inciting each other to our best game.”

Books by Joe Haldeman’s Bed

The science fiction superstar says, “When I go to bed I fall asleep immediately. The little stack of books I have there goes back a couple of years to when I had a cold and was stuck in bed—The Viking Portable Faulkner, The Viking Portable Joyce, Love Among the Haystacks (Lawrence), Fowles’s  The Collector, The [...]

Writing Poetry Is a Way of Life: Part 4

Bloody Brain Work #4 By Marvin Bell This is the fourth and final installment in a serialization. Read Part 1>> Read Part 2>> Read Part 3>> My seminar students had dropped off but one poem to be xeroxed for class. I had mine: that made two. I was downhearted: hadn’t they been able to become [...]