Five Literary Theories and Their Limitations

This is going to be one of my last posts on literary theory, I promise. At least for a bit. Well, maybe until I finish reading David Herman’s essay “Narrative Theory after the Second Cognitive Revolution” (fascinating stuff about the mind itself as a product, as well as a producer, of discourse). We’ll see. ButContinue reading “Five Literary Theories and Their Limitations”

To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race”

Since the 1930s Formalism has positioned literary art as independent of author, era, and even possibly meaning. It promises that if readers would just focus on structure, symbols, and tensions within the text itself, all will be clear. Although this approach still holds sway in literature and creative writing classes, Critical Race Theory has challengedContinue reading “To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race””

Bergman’s Female Characters

When I first viewed Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL, I knew I had discovered one of my favorite filmmakers. Now, working my way through his oeuvre, I am deeply moved by the honesty of his female characters. The titular character in SUMMER WITH MONIKA (1953) is at first a high-spirited young woman (played by the sensuallyContinue reading “Bergman’s Female Characters”

Why “I’m Not a Rapist” Means Nothing

In Zen Buddhism, Ango is a three-month period of intensive study and practice. One aspect of Ango is that members of a Zen center study the precepts. These are guidelines for ethical conduct that have been passed on by ordained Buddhist priests across the millennia. My Zen center is headed by an ordained male priest,Continue reading “Why “I’m Not a Rapist” Means Nothing”

Of Stranger Things, Consumerism, and the Post-Credits Scene

SPOILERS! LOTS AND LOTS OF SPOILERS! And now back to our regularly scheduled programming, folks. So Netflix and the Duffer Brothers dropped Season 3 of Stranger Things just over a week ago. Like the fans we are, America gobbled it up, and now our conversations are about what’s next. This, to me, is the great tragedy ofContinue reading “Of Stranger Things, Consumerism, and the Post-Credits Scene”

Grandpa

That autumn I was 20, my grandfather died. A few months earlier, he had been diagnosed with cancer. He avoided doctors for most of his life, and in the end, it cost all of us. A routine colonoscopy could have nipped the cancer in the bud. But by the time his pain forced him toContinue reading “Grandpa”

The Angst of the Artist

It really only happens when we’re not working–because we’re stuck or self-doubting or, well, just not working. I am one hell of a crotchety old woman when I’m not writing. And lately that’s been true for a few more days than I’d like. During novel revisions last night, I finally went back to a revisedContinue reading “The Angst of the Artist”

A Friend Asked Me How I Find Time to Write, So Here’s My Answer

Okay, so you asked how I find time to write and publish and wedding plan and work while I’m in grad school full-time. Good question. Well, I’m writing this on my smartphone during my morning commute to work. I take care of all my non-school/work correspondence (including blogging) in the morning before work. If IContinue reading “A Friend Asked Me How I Find Time to Write, So Here’s My Answer”

Stealing Other Lives

So I subbed down at Auburn Library yesterday, and maybe the staff were just trying to impress the new girl, but I overheard them talking about a recent shooting in the park behind the library. A few minutes earlier, I’d seen children splashing in a wading pool while their parents knotted birthday balloons to aContinue reading “Stealing Other Lives”

On Seeing My Father’s Face for the First Time in Nine Years

I can’t say for sure exactly why, but two days ago, I sat down at my computer, opened Google, and typed in my parents’ names. I was overcome with longing to find out what had ever happened to them. We haven’t spoken in nine years. I hadn’t felt the least bit curious before in allContinue reading “On Seeing My Father’s Face for the First Time in Nine Years”