On Fiction

Becoming Visible: On Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone

Oranienplatz, Berlin, Germany. Very little in Jenny Erpenbeck’s previous fiction—allegorical, timeless—prepares a reader for the immediacy and moral heft of Go, Went, Gone. It asks the same question Michael Ignatieff did…

In the gap between writer and reader, the novel comes to life

There’s an exercise I sometimes get members of book groups to do: I ask each of them to draw a picture of the cabin from my first novel, Our Endless…

The Light of Possibilities: On Patrick Park’s Tucumcari

From the opening sentence of Patrick Parks’ remarkable debut novel Tucumcari, readers are invited into the bewildered reality of a man whose life exists in an interwoven fabric of the…

The Novel is dead, long live the novel

Novelists announce the death of the novel with such sinister regularity you’d be forgiven for thinking they can’t wait to find themselves out of a job. It’s a cyclical theme,…

Re-inhabiting culture, transforming the self: R.K. Narayan’s The Guide

In R. K. Narayan’s novel The Guide (1958) a common con-man, “Railway” Raju, asks for a few choice morsels under the guise of a religious requirement. He’s begging from the…

The radical re-visioning of Anna Kavan

I first read Helen Ferguson/Anna Kavan in 1997 or 1998 when I was living in Ansan, an industrial city an hour subway ride from Seoul. Every few months I’d receive…

Sam Shepard is a place

Ed note: Sam Shepard passed away on July 27, 2017. He was alive at the time this essay was written. Sam Shepard is a place, and in The One Inside…

Infinitely Weird Flights of Mind: Jeremy Bushnell’s The Insides

Our senses discern four dimensions, three spatial and one temporal. Quantum physics notably augmented this self-evidence with anywhere from six to an infinite number of unobservable dimensions. So where are…

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