I’ve long considered the AWP Writer’s Chronicle a must-have subscription, and repeatedly share its craft articles with my students, so I’m thrilled that the Chronicle has published my essay “Words Creating Space: Three-Dimensionality in Prose” in its December 2017 issue. The essay was inspired by John Berger and my mentor Frederick Reiken, and touches on writing by Jo Ann Beard, Marguerite Duras, Sheila Heti, Sarah Manguso, Jenny Offill, and Bruno Schulz, as well as dance by Ohad Nahrin.
Below is a small excerpt. The entire article is available at this link if you have a Writer’s Chronicle subscription (well worth the investment).
“I was introduced to [Raymond Carver’s] “Errand” in a lecture by my graduate school mentor, the novelist Frederick Reiken. Being a Rick Reiken lecture,1 the talk also dipped into quantum wave theory and Schroedinger’s cat. And it ended with an allusion to an essay by the novelist and art critic John Berger, an essay titled “Lost Off Cape Wrath.” I don’t remember what Rick quoted from Berger’s baffling essay, but I remember Rick pointing at the window behind the lectern, shaking his baseball-capped head at the inability of us struggling scribes to access his electrified brain, and saying “Fiction is not what’s out there.” I felt my mind grasp at truth, and just as quickly felt truth slip through my cognitive fingers. I have since come to believe that Rick’s imploring recapitulation of Berger—“fiction is not what’s out there”—applies not just to fiction, but to any writing, fiction or nonfiction or some ambiguous place between, that draws the reader inside its own independent, vivid reality.
How does this spaciousness happen? I want to make three foundational hypotheses.”
More of my craft articles on writing are collected here.