Archive for March, 2010

Review: ‘Name All the Animals’

March 28, 2010 | 6 Comments

Frank Conroy on mystery & memoir

March 23, 2010 | 12 Comments

Frank Conroy (1936 – 2005), author of the classic memoir Stop-Time (which has the strangeness of true art about it), as well as novels and essays, was director of the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He sat down for an interview with Lacy Crawford of Narrative magazine before his death. Some excerpts: “The power and almost obscene wealth of parts of America resemble nothing so much as the Roman Empire. I don’t understand why people aren’t completely scandalized …

[Read More]

John McPhee’s plans & his surprises

March 17, 2010 | 4 Comments

The February 8 issue of The New Yorker featured an essay by John McPhee called “The Patch.” It’s about one of McPhee’s passions, fishing for chain pickerel, but it takes an unusual turn for McPhee when it also portrays the dying in 1984 of his physician father, who taught McPhee to fish. The elder McPhee, felled by a stroke at eighty-nine, was unresponsive until his son told him about a pickerel he’d just landed with his father’s ancient bamboo rod. …

[Read More]

Review: ‘Lit’ by Mary Karr

March 12, 2010 | 6 Comments

Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr. Harper Collins. 386 pages Her family drank. As a girl she sat with her father in bars and sipped from his beer cans. On her first trip home as a college freshman, at Christmas, her father picked her up at the bus station and offered her a swig of the whiskey he’d hidden under his truck’s seat. “The bottle gleamed in the air between us,” Mary Karr writes in her latest memoir, Lit. “I …

[Read More]

Don’t outline, he said

March 5, 2010 | 2 Comments

No writing advisors are more contradictory than those who say you must plan and outline vs. those who say you must plunge in and discover. Which works? Who the hell knows? What works is what works for you. I suspect that, like most things, the sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle. I understand those who decry the wasted effort of seat-of-the-pants scribblers. But I also believe in discovery, which can’t be planned (though outliners say discovery emerges best when …

[Read More]