The Spirit of Wilderness in a Fallen World: Winslow Homer & Eric Aho’s “River Line”

February 8, 2020 § Leave a comment

Portage 78x70“A vibrating current of electricity dwells just behind everything in nature and the encounter with the painting, like the encounter with the trout, links you to that current, if only for a fleeting instant. A connection is made between you and something larger. Something important and true. Winslow Homer knew this. Eric Aho knows it too.”

Wrote this essay for the catalog accompanying an exhibition of my good friend Eric Aho’s recent work at the Tayloe Piggott Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming. Very happy to share it here. If you haven’t seen Eric’s work, well you really should.

New piece on rule-breaking for writers up at GrubWrites

March 28, 2018 § Leave a comment

“There’s an unwritten rule that dreams have no place in fiction. Perhaps you’re aware of it. No? Then maybe you haven’t taken enough workshops. It’s pretty high on the list of fiction-writing no-nos.”

grubstreet-logoClick here to read my thoughts on why fictional dreams AREN’T actually forbidden, and other thoughts on why breaking the rules is an essential skill for writers . . .

A conversation about writing with James Scott of TK Podcast

August 29, 2017 § Leave a comment

TK-Podcast-LOGOReally enjoyed my conversation with James Scott on the latest episode of his terrific series of literary conversations known as the TK Podcast. James is a bestselling novelist (The Kept) and an excellent interviewer, with a real knack for asking questions about writing and life that lead to interesting places.

We talked about travel, the writing life, the binary nature of solitude, National Geographic, short fiction, how to sequence stories in a short fiction collection, the Cuba Writers Program, Ingmar Bergman, drug writingGreen Writers Press, Denis Johnson, The Grateful Dead, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Paul Bowles, and much, much more. Highly recommended if you’re a writer and/or a fan of literary podcasts! Here’s the link.

 

 

 

Eight Novels to Prepare You for the End of Civilization at Talking Writing

March 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

9622480490_57c0de302d_zYet another new article up, this one at Talking Writing. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Novels act like beacons in stormy weather. Even when they promise an escape from the daily onslaught, novels light a path forward in ways nonfiction can’t. They allow readers to live out life’s worst-case scenarios from within the safety of their own imaginations so that when something terrible actually happens—a personal tragedy, a natural catastrophe, a deadly plague—it’s not a complete surprise. As a reader, I’m an easy mark for dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, and I’m often struck by the unique way such novels deliver not only practical strategies for surviving the unthinkable but emotional strategies, too—which ultimately may be more important. It’s hard to overstate the solace good fiction can provide even in the darkest of times.

So, if you’re stocking the shelves of your survival shelter, don’t forget to throw in a few gripping novels. Here are eight that strike me as especially pertinent right now.

Read the full article here!

New craft article out at Fiction Writers Review

March 20, 2017 § 2 Comments

logoI’m a big fan of Fiction Writers Review and it’s an honor to be welcomed home from a trip abroad with the news that they’ve published my article, “Shadow Play: Dreams, Visions, & Hallucinations in Fiction.” Here’s a brief excerpt:

A vibrant inner landscape is something fiction can offer far more fulsomely than any other narrative art, which is the reason novels and stories will never be fully supplanted by movies or TV or video games. Fiction is irresistible because it offers the reader a defamiliarized version of the universal mind, in all its wisdom and agony and strange, conflicted beauty.

For fiction writers, this is where it gets fun. The inner landscape is our native domain, and we have certain freedoms and privileges within it that are not readily available to other artists. Our stories unfold primarily as refracted through our characters’ minds, meaning that we’re uniquely positioned to push against the outer limits of objective reality. We can play around with space and time and perception in really interesting ways—including via dreams, visions, and hallucinations.

Read the full article here.

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