“After ten years of painting, that is to say ten years of using an abstract, invented language, writing stories was the closest I had come to working in the realm of ‘realism.’ It was the most direct I had ever been in my art. Perhaps the most direct I had ever been. But, as I learned from the comments of my peers in workshop (‘this isn’t a story,’ ‘this is poetry,’ ‘what is this’), my writing was something other than what we referred to as literary realism. By which I mean, the writing many have come to believe most accurately represents life.” Susan Steinberg asks what happened to American experimental writing.
Recommended reading: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the new modesty of literary criticism and the complicated relationship between texts, critics, and politics. For more on the balance between art and politics, look no further than Jonathan Clarke‘s Millions essay, “Alive with Disagreement and Dissent.”
A pair of pieces from The Millions are among the finalists in this year’s 3 Quarks Daily Arts and Literature Prize: “Her Story Next to His: Beloved and The Odyssey” by Frank Kovarik and “Reading and Race: On Slavery in Fiction” by our staff writer Edan Lepucki.
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling‘s elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let’s say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”
Selections from Open Yale Courses are headed to print. As program director John Donatich explains, “At first glance, you might look at it skeptically and ask why would anybody pay for something that you can get for free. But on second glance you realize that it’s actually not the same thing at all.”