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Critique Magazine's On Writing III
September 15, 2004 12:22 AM   Subscribe

Critique Magazine's On Writing III - Each year, Critique Magazine's staff compiles essays by and interviews with writers, teachers, and translators of merit for inclusion in the special anniversary edition "On Writing".

Basically, a shitload of authors provide thoughts on, ahem, writing. {Both sites are worth a look, imo.}
posted by dobbs (18 comments total)

 
Now you're talkin'!

This looks like the true mother lode. Thanks, dobbs!
posted by SteelyDuran at 12:50 AM on September 15, 2004


i love shitloads of anything
posted by Satapher at 1:03 AM on September 15, 2004


it love shitloads of anything -- Satapher

Maybe you shouldn't, in this case, Satapher. More authors. Fewer readers. Fiction, at least, is fast becoming as unread and irrelevant as poetry. Short stories are now pretty much as ignorable as the little verses that appear in the New Yorker, Atlantic, and New York Review. The explosive growth of self-publishing means that what few gatekeepers there were in this business are fast disappearing. More books of poetry are published in the United States in one year today than were published in all of human history up until the end of the 19th century. And fewer people actually READ poetry today, than at any time in human history. The same will soon be true of novels and short stories. I'm sorry to see it happen.
posted by Faze at 7:10 AM on September 15, 2004


More authors. Fewer readers.

Is there a connection, or is this just a coincidence? While I would prefer to live among well-read people, more authors is a better thing for me, as a reader. Modulo quality, of course.

Fiction, at least, is fast becoming as unread and irrelevant as poetry. Short stories are now pretty much as ignorable as the little verses that appear in the New Yorker, Atlantic, and New York Review.

You say this based on what? Are these short stories just not to your taste? Too "modern"? There is a lot of PoMo, aren't-we-hip, LitCrit experimental stories, but that's just a small slice of what's available. (Besides, some of that stuff is fun.)

I recently finished Rick Moody'sThe Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven. Quite good. And modern.

I've also been working through The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. Fifty short storeis, all written after 1970. Most are really good. There are some damn fine writers around.

The explosive growth of self-publishing means that what few gatekeepers there were in this business are fast disappearing.

But so what? You are not compelled to buy or read all the crap that rolls off a basement press. What's needed are good guides to help sift through th mass of fiction now available.

More books of poetry are published in the United States in one year today than were published in all of human history up until the end of the 19th century. And fewer people actually READ poetry today, than at any time in human history. The same will soon be true of novels and short stories. I'm sorry to see it happen.

I don't think this is a reflection on the quality of the work, but on a split in society where there are now too many people mesmerized by the boob tube and video gams, with miniscule attention spans.

For the rest of us, the more literature, the merrier.
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:59 AM on September 15, 2004


Ayn Marx -- As a reader, I'd agree with you wholeheartedly, but for the example of poetry, which has become the model of an artform that is at once ubiquitous and impotent. The greatest poem that has ever been written could be published tomorrow, and it would have zero impact -- even in the literary world -- because nobody reads poetry except for other poets. And they'd all be jealous, and never let it see the light of a wider audience. As far as the short story is concerned, I believe that we are currently in the golden age of the form, and that the short stories of the past 35 include the best ever written, by far. But the sheer quantity of short stories out there right now, means that a new story generates no heat. No urgency. No matter how good it is. It's a crisis of oversupply.
posted by Faze at 9:53 AM on September 15, 2004


oh, i was just trying to resist commenting on the collection of *yawn* authors they have assembled, but i guess the good ones are dead, as they should be
posted by Satapher at 11:10 AM on September 15, 2004


And fewer people actually READ poetry today, than at any time in human history. The same will soon be true of novels and short stories. I'm sorry to see it happen.

Im not, fuck the idiots, it wont stop genius works of literature and poetry from happening in our future
posted by Satapher at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2004


furthermore there are enough books, genius beyond critique, that ill never be able to read in my lifetime -- if no one ever wrote a book again, i wouldnt blink... contemporary authors suck anyhow
posted by Satapher at 11:16 AM on September 15, 2004


Satapher, have you actually read any of those authors or is your head too far up your ass? For instance, Robert Olen Butler (Pulitzer winner), Walter Wangerin Jr. (winner of the American Book Award), the Pulitzer-nominated Harvey Stanbrough, Jonathan Carroll (one of the more diverse writers working today), J. Philip Gabriel (one of the most respected translators working, responsible for a number of Murakami translations and Nobel Prize-winning Kenzaburo Oe's Somersault), Nikki Giovanni (winner of the Langston Hughes award), etc. etc.

I was wondering what could make you so damn bitter. Then I went and read some of your own writing. These writers are published in dozens of languages and have won multiple prizes for their hundreds of books. WTF you done lately but bitch in the blue?
posted by dobbs at 11:49 AM on September 15, 2004


With a quick skim through the index of authors I didn't really recognize any (which makes me sad because I'm sure I should) until I saw that my creative writing professor from last semester was among them. Weird, but cool. I knew he was published (and helps run a literary magazine), I just didn't know anyone gave a damn.
posted by Wingy at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2004


Wingy, just so I'm clear: I wasn't implying that everyone should have heard of all (or any) of the authors, but disparaging them because one hadn't heard of them (as I imagine Satapher is doing) is what triggered my ire.
posted by dobbs at 12:05 PM on September 15, 2004


Chris Onstad and Dirk Benedict. Hells yeah.
posted by Hildago at 1:26 PM on September 15, 2004


hey those are some fancy awards, really puts things in perspective, lots of people write books, someones gotta win the awards
posted by Satapher at 6:33 PM on September 15, 2004


art is all about widespread impact, whats the point if your name doesnt get engraved?
posted by Satapher at 6:37 PM on September 15, 2004


Satapher, so... you haven't read any of them yet felt you should pass judgement nonetheless, correct?
posted by dobbs at 8:59 PM on September 15, 2004


man, i didnt even click the link
posted by Satapher at 9:28 PM on September 15, 2004


Dobbs: Yeah, I got ya. My comment about how I feel bad not recognizing any of the authors stems not from any perceived criticism from you (or anyone else) but rather from the fact that as an english major and an aspiring fiction writer, (at least some of) these writers probably have a lot to offer me that I've thus far been missing out on.
posted by Wingy at 9:49 PM on September 15, 2004


great link, much thanks. so much new to explore!
man, there are just times I feel like Burgess Meredith... I have a few years before I start to look like him.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 5:06 AM on September 17, 2004


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