Writing links: March madness edition

March has been quite the month. Things happened! Time passed! I met my writing goal for the month, which was to rewrite (again, for the bizillionth time) an essay excerpted from that Korea memoir I wrote, lo these 4 years ago. I did it. I sent it out. Mission accomplished, and I don’t mean that in a George W. Bush kind of way.

Next up, April. But first, let’s revisit March:

Line between fact and fiction? What line? David Shields considers the fuzzy state of nonfiction in the LA Times.

March was apparently John McPhee month:
First, some suggested must-read McPhee. And the NY Times review of McPhee’s new book, Silk Parachute, which is getting all kinds of press attention for the fact that McPhee apparently writes a bit about himself in it, something he’s not known for doing. Finally, Richard over at Narrative had a nice post this month on McPhee and his process.

What’s the point of an epigraph, anyway?  Andrew Tutt, over at The Millions, considers these prologue-ish lit bits in an excellent essay:

People love to call epigraphs a bundle of things, an “apposite quote that sets the mood for a story and to give an idea of what’s coming” or “a quote to set the tone like a prelude in music” or as a “foreshadowing mechanism” or “like little appetizers of the great entrée of a story” meant to illuminate “important aspects of the story [and] get us headed in the right direction.”

Humbug, say I. Humbug.

Tutt may have a point. I put an epigraph in my Korea memoir and when I reread it recently I could not imagine why I’d selected that quote for my book, or why I’d included an epigraph at all. Hmm.

I learned this month that a young writer whose first collection of short stories I really admired will soon publish a novel. If you haven’t read Julie Orringer’s How to Breathe Underwater, I say: pick it up! “The Isabel Fish,” as well as the first story in the collection, “Pilgrims” are two of my favorites. I’m looking forward to the novel.

Two agent queries, one fiction, and one nonfiction, critiqued. Very interesting.

Author and Berkeley resident Michael Chabon talks up the Bay Area lit scene.

30 favorite opening lines in literature

From lit agent Colleen Lindsay, a handy guide to novel word counts.

A Japan-based designer says “good riddance to print” and offers his vision for books on the iPad. As might be expected, his blog is beautifully designed, too.

Meghan, over at Writerland, has a nice discussion going on present vs. past tense in memoir.

A lovely, sad essay by Jonathan Rauch in the Atlantic, “Letting Go of My Father.”


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