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Continuing my exploration into the world of Carson McCullers, I’ve just finished The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, her first novel, which instantly launched into literary fame. I was surprised, after all I’d heard about it, and after having just re-read Member of the Wedding, and after having seen the movie version twice, at how […]

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Continuing my impossible dream of reading every piece of fiction the world has ever considered important, I have given up once again on John Dos Passos, this time after about fifty of the fourteen hundred or so pages that make up the U.S.A. trilogy. The tragedy, for me, of Dos Passos is that some of […]

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Somehow I’ve survived another week of writing instruction.  My 3rd graders are enthusiastic and clever, but something usually seems to keep them from doing their homework.  My 5th graders, ditto.  Don’t ask about 4th grade. In one of Kerouac’s early novels he talks about meeting Neal Cassady, who latched onto Jack, begging him to teach […]

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Rather incoherent, says Virginia Woolf, and also, as is the case with all theories, too definite. Theories often seem too definite to me, too, especially theories about art, but still I can’t resist whittling away at one.  Earnest Hemingway says that when he used to get writer’s block he would write down the truest thing […]

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So what really matters in fiction?  What you say, or how you say it? I’ve just read a hundred and eight pages of Hesse’s Narziß und Goldmund, an allegorical tale of the opposing Apollonian and the Dionysian spirits.  Each of the main characters represents a spirit, and that’s my difficulty with Hesse – that his […]

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Advance readers have begun reporting back, and if there is a consensus about the book, it is that I have managed to create a sense of place.  A reader from central California says the writing reminds her of Steinbeck’s descriptions of the Salinas Valley.  Another, who grew up outside of St. Louis, is reminded of […]

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