For lucky number 13, the guys have a wild card episode. With no prepared topic, they dive into the world of LSD, where a writer’s material comes from, and what they like and dislike about the Academy. They also discuss their friend and colleague Mehdi Okasi’s story “Give Hostages to Fortune.”
The guys dive into the murky world of details in Episode 12. What’s a significant detail? Are sensory details necessary? How do you create strangeness? They also confront different experiences with reading Laura van den Berg’s “Where We Must Be” and discuss their own reading and writing.
Episode 11 brings talk of publishing — how the WITTScasters do it, and much more importantly, why. Brian and Ben also have hard decisions to make in their own writing and Jon has some ‘splaining to do about some recent blog rants before they all talk about “Old Ironhead,” an excerpt from Mark Powell’s novel-in-progress.
Fried Chicken and Coffee offers up “Old Ironhead,” an excerpt from Mark Powell’s latest novel.
Those who bristle at Jon’s opinions can find allies at the blog page for Cathy Day’s Literary Citizenship course, and take heart in Cathy’s personal blog posts on the same topic. (Keep in mind, Jon does it for the sake of art. Always for the art.)
My undergraduate English department offered two Shakespeare courses: the comedies in the fall and the tragedies in the spring. On day one of the tragedies course I took, the professor said, perhaps quoting someone, “For those who think, life is a comedy, and for those who feel, life is a tragedy. You all must be the feelers.”
I do love a good tragedy, with its requisite pity and terror. The other day, however, I read “Twelfth Night” for the first time. Being somewhat unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s comedies, I now understand my old professor’s comment, because “Twelfth Night” — lighthearted, zany, and filled with irony upon irony — is for thinkers. Here’s why:
A case against creative writing programs. I have mixed feelings about this one. The best writing is born from experience, but that’s not to say it’s not worth honing your chops until you live into your material. Also, do classical musicians or visual artists hem and haw this much about whether their art can or should be taught? What makes creative writers (and creative writing instructors) think they’re so special? Why are they so insecure?
For reasons I won’t get into here, I’m writing an article about Shakespeare for my local newspaper. I interviewed a professor who has a course through the Great Courses on understanding Shakespeare, and he said that one of the great things about Shakespeare is that he was writing for everyone, from the groundlings who paid a penny to get in and are just there for the bawdy jokes and the most sophisticated viewers who want to grapple with the philosophical questions.
I thought that was just terrific, and the missing piece of our recent genre/literary discussion. That’s what you want to do, right? To write a book that appeals on a visceral, entertaining level but that also holds up to careful study? Here’s a great story: Continue reading →
My wife suggested I sounded a bit angry in this rant about digital self-publishing. My bad. As the guys know, I have a cranky old man persona that likes to come out, and it’s a fine line between humorous satire and just plain mean.
But I have thought deeply about our era’s rapid technological changes, what might be called a “revolution,” and like any sensible person, I have quite a few mixed feelings about it all. Perhaps my skepticism of change is ingrained in my southern bones. As Tracy Thompson tells the NY Times:
I think Southerners place so much store by history and tradition because we all have this constant, nagging sense that everything familiar to us is about to disappear. And it probably is.
In an artful and entertaining episode, the boys dissect the line between high art and lowbrow, art and entertainment, and they consider whether they are snobs (yes) and whether that matters (doubtful). They also discuss Jamie Quatro’s “The Anointing.”