Craft

An Interview with Peter Polites

The way in which Polites has readied himself to write the novel could explain his exquisitely understated, tight prose. He disappears briefly, returning with a shoebox packed with loose sheets and slips of paper. There were hundreds of individual pieces, some scribbled on receipts, others on torn scraps of lined exercise books, and everything in between – clearly the first writable material, snatched whenever inspiration has abruptly taken him. He gestures to the nearest wall. ‘I’ll arrange them all there, and then I’ll cut them into a story. The one for Down The Hume filled up the whole wall. Like literally a satellite map. There’s a narrative underneath all that, and that forms.’

The Literary Acoustics of Marlon James: Hearing Loss, the Noisy Novel, and A Brief History of Seven Killings

The audiologist might ask you how you feel about spending three grand on a set of hearing aids, and you might tell them you intend to explore other options, such as getting more of your sonic satisfaction from words. To find a new way of appreciating sound without bothering my ears, I began to assemble the list of what might be called Sonic Fiction, the Literature of the Ear, or the Noisy Novel. And Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, a novel saturated with sound and explicitly concerned with hearing and listening, comes very close to taking the title of ‘the noisiest novel ever’.

An Interview with Thomas Keneally

Likely best known for his 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark, which was later adapted into Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Schindler’s List, Thomas Keneally has been penning a crime thriller series set within Australia’s formative colonial years. Collaborating with his daughter, journalist Meg Keneally, the author has seamlessly blended his encyclopaedic knowledge of our convict forefathers with Meg’s ‘sharp, journalist mind’ to craft the world of the titular Hugh Monsarrat, the Keneallys’ answer to Sherlock Holmes.

Lazy Storytelling, Rory Gilmore, and Why Fictional Women Should Write More Than Their Autobiographies

The benefits of women taking and using their authentic voices to tell their stories from a place of authority are far-reaching and largely very positive. But when we box women writers into a selective space that disallows exploration of themes, subjects, and topics outside of memoir, we open the door to women writers only to shut them into the foyer.



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Craft, Issue #2

An Exercise: Turning Yourself Into a Character

Beginning, or just bad, memoirists often try to present themselves as ‘likeable’. Yet the more conflicted and honest about our flaws we are on the page, the more likely our stories are to appeal to readers. The most important thing is not to shy away from putting on the paper all those things we often hide in social interactions – those quirks that are unmistakably ours, the hidden thoughts and eccentricities that set us apart and show our most fundamental dilemmas.

A Review of Nicholas John Turner’s ‘Hang Him When He Is Not There’

How we approach a short story, any story, influences our interaction with the text, where pre-reading judgements affect the intercourse between the author and reader. My approach to this collection was of a reader expecting to notice characteristics of the archetypal short story. As I immersed myself into the act of reading, I experienced subtle and then significant movement from being resistant to being enticed by the author’s voice and style.

Remembering Forgetting with Lydia Davis

Davis has been called, dismissively, ‘a writer’s writer’s writer’, which gives the impression that her work exists somewhere on the ethereal edges of what can be enjoyed by the average person. It’s true that Davis’s prose is often very close to poetry in its meticulous attention to the verbal. But to dismiss this kind of writing as gratuitously abstruse, available only to other writers, is to ignore the true gift that Davis gives us in her work: the gift of noticing, or ‘vigilance’, as one of her Booker-prize judges called it.

New Fidelities

What do our choices (our likes) – as writers now, as makers – say, if anything, about how we see the world? In other words, do preferences around style speak to the ontologies to which we subscribe, knowingly or not? Does style (in the broadest sense here) betray our most pressing existential worries, our particular way of squirming and daring? And, as an upshot, does what we experience as the spoken or unspoken rules of writing (or of particular writing enclaves and positions on writing) have anything to do with power and politics?

A History of Rests

What did Christina Stead see when, in 1930, she left Paris – largely to avoid meeting the mother-in-law of her de-facto partner, William Blech, who, awkwardly, was married to someone else – for Salzburg, Austria, in order to attend a festival devoted to the work of Mozart, that city’s most famous son? The Salzburg Tales, published four years later, was based largely on her time there, and that book’s first word discloses to us in terms that could not be more literal what Stead saw when she arrived: ‘Salzburg’.

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