Stuff on this blog:
- Personal and professional biases, without full disclosure
- Spoilers, with and without warnings
- Unpleasantness, with and without warnings
Stuff on this blog:
“The Tragic Tale of the Baron and His Wife,” by Witold Gombrowicz, translated by Tul’si Bhambry
The same Witold Gombrowicz who wrote “Lawyer Kraykowksi’s Dancer.”
“A writing routine that causes some form of discomfort isn’t so much a reminder of this omnipresent discord; given so many writers’ propensity for neuroses and anxiety, I doubt many of us need a reminder of how much conflict exists in the world. Instead, it is a distillation of that broad imbalance into a discrete unit, a microcosm of discomfort. If existential discomfort serves as the impetus to create in the first place, then perhaps a more localized, physical discomfort can cause a smaller version of the same reaction and help you actually come up with some words that could lead to a draft. Keeping yourself on edge—especially by, say, using an ugly font that you know will get replaced later—puts that potential for change in sharp relief.”
—Connor Ferguson (x)
Rahul Kanakia on how he wrote his novel Enter Title Here:
“The way I like to think about it is, ‘What is the story that this character is telling about themselves? And how is that story being challenged?’
“I’ve started to see a novel in dialectic terms. It starts off with a character telling themselves one thing, and then a counter-narrative emerges to challenge it. For instance, my debut begins with Reshma telling herself that she’s smart and ambitious and capable of anything, including being a popular social butterfly. But then a counternarrative emerges: perhaps she’s not that smart; maybe she’s only a cheat. And those two narratives duel throughout the novel, with first one gaining the upper hand and then the other, until finally Reshma is forced to abandon her narrative and search for something new.”
This strikes me as a powerful way to create constant suspense. I usually think of suspense as something that hinges on a particular event and reveal, but why should it be?
“Empty Planets,” by Rahul Kanakia
Appeared in Interzone, issue 262, January–February 2016
10 pages in the magazine, maybe 4k words?
Is there a word for bleak hopefulness? Cheerful meaninglessness? It’s not a feeling I enjoy, but I admire fiction that manages to replicate it. (Like “Reasons to Be Cheerful,” which is one of Kanakia’s favorites.)
“When you have an entire story about a guy who struggles to articulate the inarticulable, you really want an ending that says something. And yet what is there to say that can’t be banal? I got a few rejections from editors where they said everything was working except for the ending.
“However, I loved the ending. I’ve rarely been more sure that I’ve found the right ending for a story. And after reading through it just now, I was struck by how well the story articulated the problems I’m still facing, two years after writing it.”
“Stiff Upper Lip (Series),” by Wendy Barker
Appeared in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, May 9th, 2016
I was surprised to see the author describe this as a prose poem—perhaps it doesn’t have the plot structure to be called a story. These things are blurry and subjective. It’s a good piece either way.
“Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,” by Paul Kavanagh
I like this. Reminds me of “Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby,” except that the characters seem, ambiguously, to be children—children perhaps imitating something they saw on TV, and without any apparent thought of punishing Alfred or doing him harm.