Link Roundup: MFA to High School, Temples of Texts, and International Art English
by ________Posted on August 2nd, 2012 at 9:35 am
Over at The Millions, sometimes LP contributor Nicholas Ripatrazone asks, then answers, “Got an MFA? Teach High School”:
I began my high school teaching before I entered an MFA program, and continued it afterward. That might give me an advantage over others, particularly people who have never taught at any level. But I don’t think that negates my advice. I like to think that if someone pursues an MFA in Creative Writing, they love both reading and writing, and have also gained quantifiable skills in literary analysis, writing, and critical thinking. I believe one can learn how to transfer those skills — to teach them — to young students.
In homage to the fiction writer and critic William H. Gass—and in celebration of his 88th birthday—John Madera offers up a hosts of writers’ own “temples of texts” at Big Other, each writer (taking their cue from Gass) shares the 50 book “pillars” that most influenced them. There’s a varied and interesting list of writers that contributed, such as Samuel R. Delany, Rikki Ducornet, and John Reed. In his own contribution, Madera offers some personal reflections about Annie Dillard (#19) and Salman Rushdie (#45) that are definitely worth checking out. (UPDATE: A.D. Jameson has compiled all of the responses to see which writers were the most mentioned. Beckett, Joyce, and Woolf receive top billing.)
In the latest completed issue of Triple Canopy, issue 16 “They Were Us,” Alix Rule and David Levine explore what they are calling International Art English, or “the unique language of the international art world.” (Very interesting looking fiction in the issue from Joshua Cohen and Lucy Ives, too.) Here’s a bit of what Rule and Levine are looking at in art language:
The language we use for writing about art is oddly pornographic: We know it when we see it. No one would deny its distinctiveness. Yet efforts to define it inevitably produce squeamishness, as if describing the object too precisely might reveal one’s particular, perhaps peculiar, investments in it.
Finally, Unstuck—a new Austin literary journal “looking to introduce science fiction writing to a literary readership, and vice versa”—has launched a Kickstarter campaign for issue #2, a doorstopper of fantastic literature clocking in at over 500 pages. In just three days Unstuck has nearly realized their $3000 goal, but stop over anyhow as they’ve still got a little left to go and lots of gifts. What’s more, each weekday during the drive the Unstuck website will feature a new interview with one of of their fiction contributors; they’ll tweet a link to each interview as it goes up: @unstuckmag. Here below is a look at just this week’s interviews, which will continue until August 24:
Monday, July 30th: Arthur Bradford
The author of Dogwalker and the forthcoming Benny’s Brigade (McSweeney’s) chats with us about Eraserhead, giant carrots, house museums, antique typewriters, and the charm of the highway strip.
“In Maine I remember a giant hill of sawdust that my father discovered beside a dirt logging road. It was on the way to our fishing camp in the north and we made a point of stopping there after we discovered it. Us kids would run down and roll in the dust and it was quite satisfying. After a few years, plants and other vegetation took hold, and that was the end of it.”
Tuesday, July 31st: Karin Tidbeck
The author of Vem är Arvid Pekon, Jagannath and Amatka talks with us on the eve of the release of her first book in English.
“[English and Swedish] lend themselves to different moods and ways of presenting a story. I began to figure this out while attending the Clarion Writers’ Workshop in 2010; that’s where I started really realizing what the differences are, and how this works. It’s hard to say what part of translating between the two languages is me and what’s my cultural heritage, but my Swedish stories, if written in Swedish originally, tend to be more terse, and my English stories longer and with a more, hmm, florid prose. … You take on slightly different personalities depending on what language you’re using.”
Wednesday, August 1st: Aimee Bender
Topics include Caryl Churchill, Louis CK, Ray Bradbury, and the modern fairy tale.
“[My] favorite moment was at Reed College, which is super liberal and very academic and a little pressured because of that. Great place, but a little pressured. I read a story called ‘Debbieland’ about junior high school girls beating up a girl, and after, someone asked why I wrote about such broken women and girls. And as a woman, didn’t I feel a responsibility to write strong women? I loved it as a question because it set me up so beautifully to contradict that assumption. A perfect pitch to an eager bat. Because who wants to write strong all the time? Or read strong? Who is strong all the time?”
Thursday, August 2nd: Joe Meno
The author and playwright chats with us about independent publishing, the book as object, the 1990s, his new novel (Office Girl), and the advantages of writing stories set on public buses.
“Short fiction is all about compression. Compression of time, event, dramatic arc. And most important of all, the use of opposites. So public places work well, because there are usually lots of different kinds of people forced up beside each other. There’s Flannery O’Connor’s majestic bus story ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge.’ … I don’t take the bus. I take the subway. For some reason, at least in Chicago, there’s a very different atmosphere on the El. The bus—and this is terrible to admit—is way more like a doctor’s waiting room. There is a sense of frustration, confusion, disappointment, and rage. Most people who ride the bus are not doing it because they want to, which lends it the place to be particularly dramatic.”
Friday, August 3rd: Lindsay Hunter
The author of Daddy’s on anthropomorphism, “catropomorphism,” the taste and texture of Spam, and the allure of the short-short.
“I love the immediacy of [flash fiction]. I love how an entire world can be shown in just a matter of moments. … There is a world in every sentence. I love the stakes of short fiction. I love how it seems—to me anyway—that word choice is just as essential as plot. … I had an argument with a professor once about whether or not a story I had written was a poem or a story, and I feel like that is the tension I want in everything I write or read.”