Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Charles Baxter Is Brave

In her introduction to Best American Short Stories 2013, Elizabeth Strout writes that what she wants from a short story is"the news that is kept secret, the unsayable things that occur in the dark crevices of the mind."  When you wander into territory of a Charles Baxter story, you find older men confronted by the desires of an adolescent girl; guilt that permeates a middle class; a stranger-substitute-teacher who brings equal shares of hope and misery; a woman whose childhood understanding of gender damns her future relationship.  Do these stories surprise you with their wandering in the territory of the uncomfortable?  Do the babies in the Loreto chapels of Prague take away your breath with their gaudy little faces?  Do you feel as if you were hit by a tram while traipsing around a new city?  Pay attention to the passage in "Bravery" where Susan is watching TV.  Does she seem lost to you?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wander around, but not in a square

Preparing to teach Intermediate Fiction this fall, I ran across a website about metaphors that foster creative thinking.  Now go sit beside a box and tell me what happens.  (A desk is not a box.)