Paper Monument

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My, oh my, how the months fly by. Last I posted it was winter and now it’s fall again. Three seasons later, I have three things to share.

I’m very pleased to have published two new story-reviews this year. These are my experimental book reviews, or critifictions, as I call them sometimes. (A friend of mine said he thinks I might have invented this form/genre? Hard to say. Who knows?)

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Another Life

birds

My latest experimental book review is now online at Full Stop. (It originally appeared last year in the Full Stop Quarterly.) It’s part four in an ongoing series of experimental reviews I’m writing about literature in translation. I’ve been publishing them pretty slowly, about once a year. They’re a bit hard to place, being so different from traditional reviews, but I enjoy writing them. Many thanks to Helen Stuhr-Rommereim for believing in this piece and making it happen.

Another Life
On Recitation by Bae Suah, translated by Deborah Smith.

The critic read Suah’s novel, Recitation, on the train to and from a writers conference. At a panel about the art of criticism featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Margo Jefferson the discussion turned to writing, the personal process of coming to terms with bias against different sorts of texts, the ways critics develop an approach for each piece. In the audience the critic listened as Jefferson described the nature of critical writing as “giving real coherence to ambiguity,” saying that not unlike a fiction writer a critic must also, “play different parts, very much adjusting your voice,” when interpreting a book’s potential meanings.

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An interview with Daniel Evans Pritchard

What motivations shape a critic’s decisions to write about the books they defend and those they dismiss? And what are the ethical or moral dimensions of those decisions? Beyond mere conflicts of interest, what lines do they draw for themselves in their work? Are there personal forces or experiences that affect their preferences about what to read and review?

In this ongoing series of interviews with critics, one of the central questions will be, “What is a critic’s role?” It’s a broad question, open-ended, but one which can be used, if the critic chooses, to address the personal side to their lives as critics, and perhaps how they see their work affecting society and culture.

Daniel Evans Pritchard took the time recently via email to talk about some of these questions during a discussion that ranged from his reflections on the effect of focusing solely on writing by women and writers of color for a year to the possible fates of respected literary journals that refuse to address biases in the kind of writing they support.

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An interview with David Winters

What motivations shape a critic’s decisions to write about the books they defend and those they dismiss? And what are the ethical or moral dimensions of those decisions? Beyond mere conflicts of interest, what lines do they draw for themselves in their work? Are there personal forces or experiences that affect their preferences about what to read and review?

In this ongoing series of interviews with critics, one of the central questions will be, “What is a critic’s role?”  It’s a broad question, open-ended, but one which can be used, if the critic chooses, to address the personal side to their lives as critics, and perhaps how they see their work affecting society and culture.

For the second post in this series, I’m very pleased to present an interview with David Winters. Our conversation took place over email in recent months.

David Winters is a literary critic living in Cambridge, England. His reviews, essays and interviews have appeared in a wide variety of print and online publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The Literary Review, The White Review, The Quarterly Conversation, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. A collection of his literary criticism, titled Infinite Fictions, is forthcoming from Zero Books in January 2015; it can be pre-ordered here. He is currently co-editor in chief of 3:AM Magazine, where he commissions criticism and nonfiction. He can be found online at davidwinters.uk.

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An interview with Rohan Maitzen

What is a critic’s role? What motivations shape their decisions to write about the books they defend and those they dismiss? And what are the ethical or moral dimensions of those decisions? Beyond mere conflicts of interest, what lines do they draw for themselves in their work? What personal forces or experiences affect their preferences about what to read and review?

In this ongoing series of interviews with critics, one of the central questions will be, “What is a critic’s role?”  It’s a broad question, open-ended, but one which can be used, if the critic chooses, to address the personal side to their lives as critics, and perhaps how they see their work affecting society and culture.

For the first post in this series, I’m very pleased to present an interview with Rohan Maitzen. Our conversation took place over email in recent months.

Maitzen was born in Berkeley, California, and raised in Vancouver, B.C. After doing her Ph.D. at Cornell she moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she has taught in the English Department at Dalhousie University since 1995. She specializes in Victorian literature; her academic publications include Gender, Genre, and Victorian Historical Writing and The Victorian Art of Fiction: 19th-Century Essays on the Novel. She is an editor and regular contributor at Open Letters Monthly and blogs at Novel Readings.

Maitzen Profile

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