Twitter alerted me that this site has featured my story today. Apparently it’s part of a series called “Deal Me IN,” during which the author takes on a 52 short story reading challenge. I have been wanting to do some sort of reading challenge involving journals, but this one is a neat idea: he lines up 52 stories to read the following year, assigns each a card, and then draws his next selections from a deck. I really appreciate how this author is promoting work that appears in journals because, you know, it gets published but we have our doubts about how many people will actually read our stories.
You can read what the author wrote about my story, here.
Check out this paragraph I wrote about a Faulkner sentence. I won’t tell you how long it took me to write it, but I will say that it may be the longest time I’ve ever spent on a paragraph.
S for Sentence is a cool website where writers choose sentences to reflect upon in a short paragraph. There are a lot of cool sentences out there and on the website.
(Have a ever mentioned that I’m related to W. Faulkner? He is my great-grandmother’s cousin. That doesn’t make his sentences any easier to write about…)
I’ve been listening to and enjoying a lot of New Yorker fiction podcasts lately. If you aren’t familiar with them, they work like this: an author who was published in the New Yorker at some point reads and discusses another author’s story, which was also published in the New Yorker at some point. Editor Deborah Treisman conducts wonderful interviews at the end of the stories. Most run about 30 minutes, which makes them great for dog walks or housework, or short commutes. For me, these have been a post-MFA staple.
I’m sharing this one, where Jennifer Egan reads Mary Gaitskill’s story, “The Other Place,” because I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m a big fan of Egan, ever since she came to Tallahassee and I heard her discuss her writing process, which was to write out the entire novel by hand on legal pads and then craft it while she typed it up. I’ve tried this. It doesn’t work for me at all, but I love the idea. Listening to her, though, makes the writing life seem “possible,” and that is always refreshing.
The story she reads forces the reader into dark and ugly spaces (surprise! if you are familiar with Gaitskill at all…), but it does so with a wild amount of understanding and compassion. Let me use the word “masterful” when I describe this story. And Egan’s insights are smart.
Here are some other stories/discussions I love:
Boyle Reading Barthelme
Erdich reading Oates
Oates reading Ozick
I made this when I was teaching students how to approach reading in a literature class that focused on the short story.
I am not usually a visual person, but more of an audio learner (charts make me queasy). That said, the essence of this “map” is that it starts by looking at the story in the broadest sense and moves down to the narrower, more detailed aspects of the story. It moves from genre to structure to language.
By posting it here, I suppose I am asking what it leaves out. Should a discussion-based literature course examine a story in a more encompassing and maybe effective way?
This is how I tend to read. How do you read? How do you teach your students to read?