Tag Archives: music

Bel Canto: I may be tone deaf, but I know good writing.

The only thing I remember from first year English is a lecture that argued that all creative writing (whether poetry or prose) is about the urge by authors to create something which will outlast them. That every poem or story is, in the end, a valiant gesture toward immortality. And that readers should read with an eye to the way the author intentionally and accidentally imbues their work with this impulse; that is, that the discerning reader will always be able to find evidence of the author’s vanity, of their arrogance in thinking their work will endure. At the time I found the argument moving and persuasive. Since then I think back on it more as an example of excellent teaching, it was a well paced lecture with convincing examples and analysis. Which isn’t to say I now thinking writing isn’t about immortality, just that I haven’t had cause to declare an allegiance in the great What is Writing For debate of humanity.  Continue reading

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Filed under American literature, Fiction, Orange Prize

A Brief History Of Seven Killings: In which I quit reading the book

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I didn’t finish Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings. I read enough of it that I’m okay writing a review, but if you find my incomplete reading problematic by all means – skip the review. (and I’m sorry M. though maybe you want to quit, too?)

So why did I stop? Continue reading

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Filed under Book I'll Forget I Read, Prize Winner

The Noise of Time: I’m not good at irony

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To believe in the power of art to create or change politics (for the better) is no small thing. Such belief requires an implicit optimism that the despair and risks of the political moment (of now or any time) has difficulty supporting. Cynicism is a logical, rational response to the political moment of Trump, or in the case of Julian Barnes’ The Noise of  Time : Stalin.  The personal danger of resisting the cynical impulse by creating art is the question of the novel. Continue reading

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Filed under Fiction, New York Times Notable, Prize Winner, Reader Request

Do Not Say We Have Nothing: You Probably Know More About Everything Than Me. 

I can’t remember how I first came across Madeline Thien. It was almost certainly in the context of a literature class, and probably the responsibility of L. or D. teaching me Canadian literature. The origins don’t matter so much as knowing that I associate Thien with beautiful writing and themes of family, place and home. So when mutliple folks recommended her new book Do Not Say We Have Nothing I was primed to appreciate it. I say ‘appreciate,’ but I could have also said ‘enjoy,’ or ‘marvel,’ or ‘revel.’ It’s a book that takes for granted that its reader will want and appreciate depth in theme and exquisite beauty in writing. It is not for the lazy reader, and doesn’t assume that such readers exist.  Continue reading

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Filed under Book Club, Canadian Literature, Fiction, Giller prize, Historical Fiction, Prize Winner, Reader Request