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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gaiman's STORIES: O'Nan, Jones, and Sarrantonio


My ranking of these selections, based on personal qualifications of necessity, building, and satisfaction:

1 Jones
2 Sarrantonio
3 O'Nan
Stewart O'Nan
Al Sarrantonio
I really, really liked O'Nan's story, his lonely obsessed character from Perry, and the way I find myself just like her at the end.  When I asked about his writing habits, whether he continued to write many short stories, he revealed that "Land of the Lost" was excised from a novel, saved, and later worked into a short story for Gaiman's anthology.

Diana Wynne Jones



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Raymond Carver: "Cathedral"

Many of you will have read this story before.  If you haven't, and you haven't read much Raymond Carver, know that this one is considered by him and others to be a turning point in his famous career, one in which three people find some small, quiet peace in communion.

For purposes of observing craft through the lens of this piece, consider what Baxter says about characterization: "Plot often develops out of the tensions between characters, and in order to get that tension, a writer sometimes has to be a bit of a matchmaker, creating characters who counterpoint one another..." (88).  He suggests that in a crafted combination, characters have "a crucial response to each other."  

Raymond Carver with his wife, the poet Tess Gallagher, photographed in 1984, in Syracuse, New York. Photograph: Bob Adelman/Corbis 
Consider, too, Baxter's reclamation of "rhyming" for prose.  This is similar to my analogy of a rollagraph or stamping wheel.  I love his idea of "beautiful action" (113), actions that "feel aesthetically correct and just--actions or dramatic images that cause the hair on the back of our necks to stand up, as if we were reading a poem," and he concludes that this kind of sublime experience "has to do with dramatic repetition, or echo effects."  I will suggest, although it is for you to elaborate upon, that "Cathedral" is magnificent because of its (Baxter-redefined) rhyme.