“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.
Newly minted Paris Review editor (and polymorphous enthusiast) Lorin Stein runs down some recent pleasures for More Intelligent Life. To wit: Lipsyte, Dickens, Du Maurier, Nádas, Merle Haggard, newcomer April Ayers Lawson, the Lydia Davis Proust, outer-borough maniacs, and “proletarian erotica”…not necessarily in that order.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”
“A month ago, I touched a lock of Sylvia Plath’s hair.” At Tin House, Emma Komlos-Hrobsky examines the relationship between the late poet and her fans.