What Is Wrong with American Literature? (Or Why Bob Dylan Was Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature)

Last week I shared with you some of my thoughts about finding the proper entry point into a story. This week I want to examine in broad strokes why I think American literature of the last fifty years has lost the power to impress the world.

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Literary Afterlife: An Interview with Ian Drew Forsyth

Imagine a fictional world in which all your beloved (or despised) dead writers get one last swan song from beyond the grave. Do they find themselves in “heaven,” “hell,” or something far stranger? And will they ever get around to answering some of literature’s greatest mysteries for us, such as:

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An Excerpt from Gods Among Gazelles

It was three in the afternoon, a little late for lunch, and they were sitting on the tiled verandah of the great farmhouse on the edge of the jungle, looking north and west across the down-sloping grassy sunny stretch and the prickly greenness of acacia trees, the bluish-green woody clumps of a few tea bushes, a few wild coffee plants scattered about, some palm trees glowing darkly against the sun, the colors of the long grasses mixing together, a swirling of dark greens and light greens, and the polished steely sunny flash of the river in the distance, the one thinking we have never had a morning like that before, God help us, never seen anything move that fast before neither, and the size of those jaws and the way they covered my whole leg and then everything vanished, he might have snapped me in two, good God that’s a damn fact, it’s a miracle I still have that leg, but wasn’t it a goddamn thrill to start off the day like that, you don’t get too many like that, by God, you just don’t, and the other not thinking anything at all, just waiting for lunch to be served, sitting there with the patience of the sheltering sky and the hot fragrant wind blowing up from the river.  

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The Proper Entry Point

The name of this column is taken from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel. The entire passage is as follows: “My dear, dear girl [. . .] we can’t turn back the days that have gone. We can’t turn life back to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of fire—a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron—which we cannot get back.”

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Veteran Writer Rick Harsch Interviews Editor and Debut Novelist George Salis

A note from Rick Harsch, the interviewer: If I’m right, the creator of this site, George Salis, likely doesn’t want to come off as a blowhard or braggart, nor IS he a blowhard or braggart. But his first novel is coming out this fall and I thought maybe it would be a good idea for readers to find out a little something about him. So I concocted the idea of a rapid-fire interview done in near real-time, whatever that means other than it takes time to write answers. But the questions were not prepared ahead of time and George had no idea what he would be asked. I hope the interview is of sufficient interest and you find the attention required.

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An Invincible Memory by João Ubaldo Ribeiro

Editor’s note: this is the first installment of what is projected to be (at least) a monthly column by yours truly. The aim of Invisible Books is to shine a light on wrongly neglected and forgotten books and their authors. To help bring more attention to these works of art, please share this article on social media.

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goodbyes for exodus

goodbyes for exodus

i.

there is a girl on our street who for a dime will eat any insect
that doesn’t die on its way to her mouth.  her dad watches and talks to us about god and how lonely it must’ve been to not know for so long which language to learn.  if there is food in my house, it’s gone. hunger is proof that I’ve struck only those people
who’ve entered my dream oblivious that they’ve come back for more.  the girl tells me that if I don’t close my eyes 

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What Are the Origins of Great Fiction?

A note from the writer, Peter Damian Bellis: The name of this column is taken from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel. The entire passage is as follows: “My dear, dear girl [. . .] we can’t turn back the days that have gone. We can’t turn life back to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of fire—a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron—which we cannot get back.”

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