Last year, I wrote a piece called The Prince of Paradox and the Light-Beam Rider in which I discussed the power of awe and wonder. One of the two key players in this piece is Albert Einstein, the preeminent scientist who understood that “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
Now comes a wonderful article in Nautilus, Our Most Effective Weapon is Imagination, by Guido Tonelli, particle physicist, professor of general physics at the University of Pisa, and a visiting scientist at CERN. The article’s…
My wife and I have been watching the documentary on Ernest Hemingway by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.
Hemingway did his best work very early in the morning. While I would never purport to compare myself to one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, I have shared in the past that I, too, prefer to write well before sunup. Such is the case as I write this piece on a Friday morning in May.
My wife and I are huge fans of CBS Sunday Morning. It’s been our weekly morning ritual for years. I love the variety of stories, ranging from human interest to current events — a refreshing alternative to the barrage of political news invading from all fronts. My love of the show goes all the way back to the days of Charles Kuralt (I know that dates me).
The Sunday before Christmas 2020, a segment aired about Etsy in the time of COVID. One of the artisans featured is a guy named Matthew Cummings, a Knoxville-based glassblowing artist and beer…
Michael Cunningham is an American novelist and screenwriter best known for his 1998 Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Hours. The December 23, 2020 issue of The New York Times ran a wonderful essay by Cunningham, Virginia Woolf’s Literary Revolution, about Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway.
Given my thirty-year fascination with, and devotion to, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group in general, I was eager to read Cunningham’s piece. He didn’t let me down.
I could go on and on about the many reasons I love Virginia Woolf’s body of work, and I highly recommend Cunningham’s piece. However, I would like to focus here…
“Never allow the integrity of your own way of seeing things and saying things to be swamped by the influence of a master, however great.” George P. Lathrop
George Parsons Lathrop. Ever heard of him? Probably not. Most people haven’t. But everybody’s heard of his father-in law. In fact, countless high school and college students in this country still read the man’s writing every year, and have so for over a century.
You see, in 1871, at the age of twenty, George Lathrop married a woman three months his senior named Rose Hawthorne, the youngest child of Nathaniel. Yes, that Hawthorne…
Okay. I admit it. The abiding controversy surrounding Lolita notwithstanding, I’m a huge fan of Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov.
Of his considerable body of work, perhaps my favorite novel is Pale Fire. The story centers on John Shade, a reclusive poet who writes a 999-line poem about his life and speculation of what will befall him when he ultimately leaves this earth. The novel includes extensive commentary by his crazy neighbor, Charles Kinbote, who encourages him to write about his, Kinbote’s, own homeland, the kingdom of Zembla. Lest I
give away too much of the story, I’ll refrain from telling more, but…
I don’t begin a piece, whether a short story or a novel, with some lofty notion of an ideal plotline that takes the reader through an exposition, a crescendo and a climax, a resolution and a denouement. Some authors write this way, and I respect them for it.
My approach is a little different, inspired by the ancient Japanese principle of wabi-sabi, which celebrates the beauty of imperfection.
My characters, with all their flaws and imperfections, their tics and eccentricities, their peccadillos and peculiarities — they are the agents who tell me what to write, in what direction the story must…
COMING IN 2021
Susan Herald moved to Atlanta to make a new life for herself, one far away from the privilege and upper-middle-class comfort she left behind. But her plans for a new start were not meant to be. Early one fall morning in 1970, her nude, bullet-riddled body was discovered on a construction site in a run-down part of town, her life cut short senselessly and inexplicably.
This is a true story. It is the account of the life and death of Susan Herald, fictionalized as “Kathleen” in a recent short piece (Kathleen). At the time I wrote the…
It’s not only writer’s intuition. Use personality psychology to create just the right blend of surprise and believability
by Kira-Anne Pelican
Need to know
It’s first thing in the morning, I’ve plenty to do but I can’t stop thinking about Nicole Kidman’s character from the American TV series I watched last night, The Undoing. It’s a psychological thriller, and Kidman was mesmerising. When written well, characters seize our attention and compel us to engage. They stay in our minds long after we’ve closed the pages of our novel, binge-watched the entire box set, or exited the auditorium. We mull over their…
“Books read us back to ourselves… The escape into another story reminds us that we too are another story. Not caught, not confined, not predestined.”
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us,” Kafka wrote to his childhood friend just as he was setting out on a life of making and honing axes of words. I have always been struck by his metaphor — by both the exquisite truth of its tenor and the awful violence of its vehicle. A good book is indeed a profound transformation and, yes, there can be a violence to how…
I write because that is fundamentally who I am. My body of work includes both non-fiction and fiction. Both short form and long form.