Some of us will be more willing than others to go with this Ian Rankin metaphor:
short stories really can contain multitudes. The best are the literary equivalent of Doctor Who’s Tardis: much larger on the inside than they appear from without.
(I’ve watched my share of the show since tying the knot with a man whose fondest adolescent dream was to happen upon a phone booth that would turn out to be a Tardis containing Lalla Ward. Obviously I cannot be objective.)
In the Rankin article, which justly heralds the short story, there’s a mention of this new online short story anthology featuring work from Ali Smith (yay!) and Denise Mina (a crime writer out of Glasgow whose work I’ve yet to sample).
You and the main character in “Love Me” seem to have a lot in common, including a gig as an agony aunt for the lovelorn and the pen name “Mr. Blue.” How much of Garrison Keillor is there in Larry Wyler? How much of his story is your own?
Any story a writer spins has the writer in it, plastered on every page, and the little autobiographical similarities aren’t so important as the writer’s big booming voice and myopic vision that skew each and every sentence. A mature writer seeks to take himself out of the story and let his characters come in and say their piece and do their turn without his own fine sensibility butting in all the time. The fun for me was to begin with autobiography — St. Paul, the New Yorker, Mr. Blue — and let it spin off into another direction than the one my own life took, and let Larry be somebody who is not me. This is a mature development for a man, no? To accept being contradicted by your own character.
Howard Frank Mosher gushed over the novel, calling it “a hilarious satire of just about everything in the early 21st century worth poking fun at, from the writing life to the president of the United States.”
The latest issue of The Threepenny Review features a piece by Vivian Gornick, which I’ll get around to reading in the next few days.
Neil Gaiman has won a Hugo award (best novella) for Coraline. Last year Gaiman won a Hugo award (best novel) for American Gods.
Victoria Lane seems to loathe And Now You Can Go:
Vendela Vida is not a writer who can make drama out of a whiff of garlic. The excitement of the first dozen pages gives way to real inconsequentiality. You can see the author thinking: detail, detail, which results in so much irrelevant quirkiness – “My second student is from Hungary. He’s a triple major who likes to eat cheese. One of his majors is art history; the others are German and biology.” And while books about people going off the rails require a wry distance, Ellis takes herself deadly seriously.
Quite soon, I was wishing the red-headed gunman had just pulled the trigger [and killed the narrator].
Michiko Kakutani likes Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.