Monday, February 18, 2013

With a student in my office moments ago, I nearly drove myself crazy looking for this Alice Munro quote on the Google Machine. My student left before I could find it, but now I want to post it here so that it will never be lost again, or at least not until I forget I've posted it on my blog.

Which I've probably done before.

"Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally, I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A student asked recently for a definition of "literary fiction," not an uncommon question. I said all the usual things about the term simply denoting yet another genre, though literary writers would object, but I added ideas like "choices people make under duress" and internal conflicts that mirror surface plots, etc.

The other day Narrative Magazine emailed information about their next fiction contest, and among the submission requirements was this description of the sort of work they admire and want to publish. I think it's a great substitute for what I normally characterize as "literary." Here it is:

As always, we are looking for works with a strong narrative drive, with characters we can respond to as human beings, and with effects of language, situation, and insight that are intense and total. We look for works that have the ambition of enlarging our view of ourselves and the world.