Articles by Kevin Hartnett

April 11, 2012

High Wire Act: Why I Started Writing By Hand 36

I had several reasons for wanting to write by hand. Writing on the computer feels like going to war with myself. In fact, just thinking about a blank Word document makes me sweat.

March 19, 2012

The Moral Value of Surprise: Lessons from Literature for a Fracturing Country 3

So what does it mean for the country that our cultural common denominator is shrinking? And why, in the midst of these trends is there general agreement on an issue as potentially flammable as contraception?

March 8, 2012

Family Lies? The Value of the Single Story 4

Sure, when I was six I’d peed on my sister, and over the years I’d committed various small-time atrocities against my younger brother. But I’d changed, and no one had seemed to notice!

February 23, 2012

Reading The Brothers Karamazov: Even a Toddler Knows a Funny Name When He Hears One 14

My son has a long way to go until he’s reading The Brothers Karamazov, but hopefully not so long that he forgets about Stinking Lizaveta before he gets there. I hope I’ll be near at hand, or only a phone call away, when he discovers that the funny name we used to whisper to each other is actually a very sad character in a great novel, and that the line between life and art is arbitrary, if it exists at all.

January 23, 2012

Where Parents Get Their Power: Evidence from The Brothers Karamazov 10

It occurred to me that the Grand Inquisitor’s interpretation of the Temptation of Christ effectively describes the power I hold over my two sons.

December 18, 2011

A Year in Reading: Kevin Hartnett 0

Following on months of transition and many sleepless newborn nights, Murakami’s rare, strange story gave me back my human shape.

November 14, 2011

Reading 1Q84: The Case for Fiction in a Busy Life 27

I stopped questioning the purpose of fiction and instead began to see reading 1Q84 as one of the few necessary things I did all day. The reasons for the change of heart had to do with wonder, with love, and with the way literature provides for the best parts of who we are.

July 12, 2011

The Story in the Storm: An Accomplished Author on How to Write Journalistic Nonfiction 3

If the narrative isn’t unfolding the way you want it, you can’t just change the details to make it better, the way you would when writing fiction. You have to represent the truth.

May 19, 2011

Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Air: Reconnecting with Children’s Books as a Parent 13

The market for children’s books is probably more resistant to cultural churn than just about any other slice of the consumer economy; it’s a closed circuit that reproduces itself one generation after another.

May 9, 2011

He Was Water: Kenyon Grads Remember David Foster Wallace’s Commencement Speech 21

Did Wallace’s speech resonate on the hot Ohio morning when he delivered it to the assembled student, or did it get lost amid the hurrah of a graduation weekend?