Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Szalai says, The scholar Nina Baym has pointed out how “stories of female frustration are not perceived as commenting on, or containing, the essence of our culture.” Stories of male frustration, on the other hand — especially those “melodramas of beset manhood” in which men struggle with the siren call of comfort and domesticity — jibe more neatly with what we expect serious literature to be. Men's self-discovery is hunting for big game; women's self-discovery amounts to tidying up around the house. Szalai's central thesis seems to be that American culture, at least American literary culture, is still hobbled by sexism. Instead of the Great American Novel, maybe we should be talking more about our Great American Fixation, the insistent desire to find the book that tells us who we are. How we define that search — what counts, what doesn’t — has said as much about “the American soul” as any novel that’s supposed to do the same.
Hamid asks the question What else are those mind-blowing late-20th-century works by such American women as, among others, Kingston and Kingsolver, Morrison and Robinson, L’Engle and Le Guin, if not great novels? But he says, "...they aren't the Great American Novel. ...There is no such thing." Hamid concludes "Literature is where we free ourselves." Why even worry about labels like 'The Great American Novel?'
Fallon correctly notes, however, "...the quest will continue, with or without you." She makes a lot of interesting points, including, Our discussion of the Great American novel is actually a fantastic opportunity to challenge our ingrained conception of what an "everyman" in America can look like. Can an everyman be a woman, or black, or a recent immigrant from Mexico? Can an everyman be disabled, gay, or have parents who moved here from Taiwan? It's instinctive to designate such narratives as great or definitive books about being black in America, or about a being a woman seeking self-discovery, or about LGBT communities -- but these narratives are not any less purely American than those of white, straight men seeking their own identities or fortunes across the country.
Hurray, Ms. Fallon. I'm ready and waiting for the everyman story which just happens to be about a female, black, disabled, gay Mexican-Taiwanese-American. Because, really, what is this thing we call The Great American Novel?
It's our story.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
|I recently read InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves. I really enjoyed this novel. In fact, it might be my favorite of Gaiman's work. I'm surprised there isn't more buzz about it. Gaiman claims it originated as an idea for a TV show. Could this be the reason why it isn't more lauded? It's too commercial?|
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Some things I did not expect. One thing I've learned is literary fiction really likes ambiguity and subtlety. If the reader can't tell what's going on...that's a good thing. Another surprise was story structure can b e very important. According to a literary creative writing teacher here are the elements of a story:
What is the one thing every story must have? Conflict. I agree conflict is very important...but how do you have a story or conflict without a character? I'm still scratching my head about that one.
What do you think?
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
|I read an interesting book recently, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. In Ocean the nameless adult protagonist returns home to Sussex for a funeral, wanders onto his old neighbors' property and recalls a childhood adventure. It's a beautifully-written engrossing, terrifying adventure to be sure.|
All in all, I'm not sure I got this book. The protagonist seems to be remembering his childhood to gain some secret power/weapon/knowledge but he immediately forgets. Moreover, the reader's told he has remembered and forgotten it before. Apparently the protagonist--and by extension all adults (?)--are doomed to ignorance and powerlessness. Or...?
What do you think this book is about?