Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

So You Want to Write a Novel

“I assume you’ve used a steak knife, right?”

“Of course.”

“Do you think that makes you qualified to perform neurosurgery?”

The use of silence in this video is its crowning achievement. More talking bears here.

Advertisements

Filed under: books, humor, , ,

In Awe of Francine Prose

I’ve read the novelist Francine Prose for many years now. Ten years ago, I stumbled across a fawning review of Blue Angel, still my favorite of her novels–though A Changed Man was woefully underrated–and have picked up her novels ever since.

D.G. Myers is equally enthralled, and wrote a sort of love letter in Commentary magazine. Myers praises Prose’s emphasis on narrative over diction, as well as her ardent love of literature:

As a character says in Hunters and Gatherers (1995), literature is her “idea of heaven”—a refuge from the battle of ugly appetites.

All of her characters are well-read, and Prose seems to have a place in her heart for George Eliot and Jane Austen.

A Changed Man may well be my favorite of her novels for the way it places the reader on uncertain ground and rarely allows us secure footing. One of the novel’s characters, a young neo-Nazi, walks into the Manhattan office of a Holocaust survivor. His purpose? To eschew his hateful ways and right his wrongs.

Prose’s skill throughout the novel is making us wonder if this man is truly seeking to redress his past, or simply charming his way into the good graces of the Holocaust survivor and his organization. There’s the plot-driven complications of the neo-Nazi’s former skinheads and the tension of a possible romance with a development officer. The emphasis here is not on lyrical prose, but believable detail and fast-paced scenes. Prose knows her characters, and it shows. In this scene, for example, Vincent, the neo-Nazi, is caught smoking the pot of a teenage friend:

For a while they’re both cracking up. The can’t even look at each other. Then they exchange quick glances, shrug, and start laughing again. Vincent’s laugh is one part surprise, one part relief, one part embarrassment, one part what-the-hell. This could so easily have gone another way.

Just one example of Prose’s intimate understanding of character. She manages to always keep her characters–and readers–off-balance. If you’ve never read the work of Francine Prose, you’re missing out.

Filed under: literature, writing, , , , , , , , ,

A “Best of” to End All “Best of”s

The “Best of” lists get a revision in The Boston Globe this week, with a collection of one editor’s picks for best books of the decade.

Nicole Lamy sings the praises of works ranging from Dave Eggers’ Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (was it really nine years ago when it came out?) to Jhumpa Lahiri’s acclaimed story collection The Interpreter of Maladies.

The Globe’s picks are all notable works, with a tendency toward the canonical and the establishment. My own choices might lean more toward the alternative, the surreal, the less media-hyped–like Rebecca Brown’s odd, excellent story collection The End of Youth or Han Ong’s dark emigrant novel, The Disinherited.

What makes a novel or nonfiction book the best of the decade? Tell us your picks in the comment section below.

Filed under: literature, , , , , , , ,

Writers on Writing (Novels)

WK-AR768_COVER__DV_20091105233214The Wall Street Journal compiles that oft-visited subject of writers and their habits. In “How to Write a Great Novel,” top-notch novelists from Edwidge Danticat to one of my favorite writers, Dan Chaon, discuss hours clocked, font size (Ann Rice uses 14-point Courier), and plot points outlined on notecards.

Interesting little highlights:

  • Nicholson Baker writes early, early in the morning (about 4 a.m.) with the lights off, his laptop darkened with light gray text, and, once finished, goes back to bed at 8:30.
  • Kazuo Ishiguro spends two years outlining his novel and one year writing the first draft.

Many writers discuss the painful process of ditching a novel: Margaret Atwood and Amitav Ghosh among them.

The feature article about writers on writing has been done repeatedly, but this WSJ article is notable for its comprehensive compilation of writers.

Filed under: literature, writing, , , , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Visitor Map

Locations of Site Visitors

RSS Recent Posts from Towleroad

  • Magnum Apologizes for Ad Comparing ‘Guilty Pleasure’ of Ice Cream to Going to Prison for Being Gay
    Magnum Ice Cream has apologized for an ad on Spotify which compared the “guilty pleasure” of eating one of its desserts to being arrested for being gay. Said the narrator in the ad, which aired in the UK: “A hug for my boyfriend—that’s my guilty pleasure.” And the punchline: “Because in my country, just a […] The post Magnum Apologizes for Ad Comparing ‘Guil […]
  • Town to Install Alarm and Hose-Equipped Public Toilets to Soak People Who Try to Have Sex
    A town in Wales is spending £170,000 ($206K) to equip public toilets with alarms and water hoses in order to discourage people from using them for public sex. The Guardian reports on what’s going down in the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl: ‘Violent movement sensors would automatically open the doors and sound high-pitched alarms, with […] The post Town to I […]
  • Aaron Schock’s Beach Bro Says Former Congressman’s ‘Viewpoint Has Grown and Changed Significantly’
    Instagram “influencer” Jeremy Cormier is speaking out after experiencing “bullying and personal hatred on a level that I would not wish on anyone” for posting an Instagram photo with disgraced former Republican Congressman Aaron Schock. View this post on Instagram Beach Bros ☀️🏖 A post shared by Jeremy Cormier (@jeremycormier) on Aug 9, 2019 at […] The post […]
  • Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson Comes Out as Gay
    Ottawa, Canada Mayor Jim Watson has come out as gay at age 58 in an essay in the Ottawa Citizen. Watson noted that he was elected to the Ottawa City Council at age 30 and called his coming out 40 years too late. Watson has served as mayor for nine years. “My reluctance has not […] The post Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson Comes Out as Gay appeared first on Towleroad […]
  • A Cyberattack Could Wreak Destruction Comparable to a Nuclear Weapon
    People around the world may be worried about nuclear tensions rising, but I think they’re missing the fact that a major cyberattack could be just as damaging – and hackers are already laying the groundwork. With the U.S. and Russia pulling out of a key nuclear weapons pact – and beginning to develop new nuclear […] The post A Cyberattack Could Wreak Destruct […]

Polls

RSS Breaking News from The Daily Beast

Pics from Africa 2010

About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

Top Clicks

  • None

Categories