Reading Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders and John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction side-by-side makes for a fun, challenging experience: figuring out how Mueenuddin’s prose violates stylistic conventions and gets away with it. In fact, Gardner’s (and other grammarians’) prescribed sentence constructions often lead to clumsy iterations.
by Nathan Go
Crafting good endings, like good openings, is among the most difficult feats to attain in a short story. So much pressure lies in its mastery – where a solid or tepid opening could mean the difference between having a work read or not read beyond the first page, a satisfying or lackluster ending often decides whether the piece gets published or not. The final paragraph of a story is usually what readers take away from the entire experience, as it is the last thing they get to process, and thus, the last thing they’re likely to remember.
Apart from the exhortations that a story needs to tie up all loose ends and bring closure to the readers, discussing what constitutes a good ending frequently devolves into the famous pronouncement in the concurring opinion of Jacobellis v. Ohio: “I know it when I see it.” As is the case with establishing aesthetic rules in writing, generalizations usually don’t work. In fact, what may sound like an effective closing to one reader might just be totally underwhelming to another. With those caveats in mind, the next best thing is to present case studies of endings that I think work (at least for me) within the context of those particular stories.
by Greg Schutz
Thomas Jefferson, remix artist? Well, yes. Fragmentation and recombination are natural features—and unavoidable consequences—of language use, and the Declaration of Independence is a remarkable remix of ideas, a crosshatch of interconnected and often competing influences. What might an investigation of the Declaration tell us about the internet, Reality Hunger, and collage as a literary form?
As opposed to wit, which is often just pedantic cruelty, more ingenious than funny, rarely instructive or heartening, aphorism is, historically, a manly form, laconic, from the Spartan polis of Laconia.
When Cage began experimenting with chance operations in the 1940s, he was looking for a means of stripping intention and taste from the process of creating art. In the Western world, our notion of “genius,” at least as it relates to artists and performers, is generally shaped by a psycho-historical method of decoding biography to discover the seed of ability.