What is Literary Fiction?
Popular fiction gets itself published and read by combining creativity and freshness with mastery of convention. It colors creatively inside the lines drawn by genre, convention, and craft lore. Literary fiction gets itself published and read by being intelligently unconventional. It colors freely over and outside the lines of genre, convention, and craft lore that shape popular fiction. In today’s fiction marketplace, that is the smallest nutshell into which the difference fits.
So Classical Music… Part 1
From time to time in life, I’ve been asked what is the appeal of classical music for devotees like me, and whether there’s any point in someone the questioner’s own age giving it a try. I’ve usually stumbled answering such questions, and lately I’m hearing them a little more often. Here’s a one-evening stab at answering them. Be forewarned: the question is not entirely simple and the answer is not entirely brief.
My best albums ever
Some of my best CD and MP3 albums
Things I wish I’d learned
Things I wish I’d learned as a younger man. Rules that rhyme are full of it. You know the ones I mean. For instance, “No pain, no gain.” Clearly a victory of poetic impulse over genuine insight, it’s usually said about exercise, where it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that for ordinary people, most of the benefits of exercise accrue, to borrow a thought from Woody Allen, just from showing up. (“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Annie Hall)
“Literary” fiction in a nutshell
One of the questions that comes up from time to time in critique group is this: What is literary fiction? How does it compare to genre fiction and by what criteria should it be critiqued? Here’s my humble contribution to that discussion.
Choose your online dictionaries carefully
There’s a dictionary that often appears near the top of search results. Here’s why you shouldn’t trust it.
Google’s the most successful son of a bitch in Finland
I have bit of deliberate ambiguity for you today, specifically how to interpret the word Google’s in the title of this post. All that “glitteringly glitters” is not what it purports to be. Once back in 2011, I read a story in a Finnish newspaper about a choirboy accidentally throwing up into a Steinway Model C valued at around €100,000 — or as it’s written in Finland, €100.000. This post is about how Google Translate hilariously mistranslated the story to English in 2011 and again differently in 2018.
What Americans Notice in Finland
I was cleaning out some email the other day and found some quick advice from 2011 that I wrote for a young American couple considering moving to Finland. FWIW I think the things an American notices about Finland are like these:
Hatching a Plot
I saw an interesting blog post the other day from a writer talking about her Frankenstein method of plot outlining. This brought a smile to my face, as I can identify with both the problem she describes and her eclectic solution. I’ve recently returned to writing fiction after what looks to have been about a 16-year hiatus. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long, but that’s what the evidence I’ve uncovered in recent weeks appears to show. Of course in that amount of time, you accumulate a lot of old hard drives, etc. Even with the most hygienic of intentions, it’s easy to end up with too…