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1+ Work 58 Membros 2 Críticas

Obras por Ryan Harty

Associated Works

The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Contribuidor — 621 exemplares
The Best American Short Stories 2003 (2003) — Contribuidor — 458 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



These stories have great titles, and the subject matter is great as well. I thought "Ongchoma" was brilliant.
thatotter | 1 outra crítica | Feb 4, 2014 |
This collection of short stories, which really could have been more accurately titled Bring Me Your Saddest Suburban Phoenix, started out mundanely enough, but as it progressed it helped me pinpoint exactly why modern American literature falls completely flat on my eyes: the authors have absolutely no voice. In a blind taste-test, I would easily be able to tell Steinbeck from Capote, Tolstoy from Chekhov, Conrad from Hardy, or Kafka from Kleist; but these guys today are totally indistinguishable from each other, as if they all went to the same writers' workshop (which is, as a matter of fact, in Iowa) where they learned three important methods of knocking out a minimally publishable book:

First, authors nowadays don't actually ever have to research or have direct experience with their subject matter; everything they need to flesh out a story comes from what they've seen in movies or can find with a quick search on google, and if they don't feel like doing even that much, they can just make things up as they see fit– the number of readers who will actually know that the sun goes down in Arizona at 6pm regardless of the season, and so therefore your character can't leave San Francisco by car at noon and make it into Phoenix at sundown the same day, will not affect book sales. Heck, with the abysmal geography skills of your average American, go ahead and take as many wild liberties with time and space as you like, because you can depend on the reader not thinking too much about how long California is or how wide Nevada is or even (depending on the route) that Utah exists; for all they know Arizona borders California from top to bottom. Certainly this is what Burroughs meant when he said, "Nothing is true, everything is permitted"!

The second important lesson is this: the way to create intrigue for the reader is not to have a complex story, or even a good one, to tell. No, just write about everyday, boring things, in everyday, boring ways, and the way to make it interesting is to not mention the protagonist's name until three pages in when it comes up casually in conversation between characters; this will cause the reader to become confused– "William? Who the fuck is William?"– and everyone knows a confused reader is an interested one. Also, don't mention where a story takes place until after six pages, at which point you may inconsequentially slip in that the restaurant is on Haight Street. The reader will then feel rewarded and smart for figuring out the mystery of why it has been raining all this time. You may even go so far as to reveal only after four pages of a story that the child whose arm has just been amputated in an epileptic fit is actually a robot!

Call me old fashioned, but I don't think it hurt Kleist's reputation at all as an all-time world master of the short story to begin every one with a date, a location and a character in the first sentence:

"About the middle of the sixteenth century there lived besides the banks of the River Havel a horse-dealer called Michael Kohlhaas" (– from Michael Kohlhaas)

Fast forward 189 years and even Hollywood will turn this story into a John Cusack film; though the movie isn't great, I doubt very much any Iowa workshop attendee will ever be able to make such a claim to fame and lasting appeal no matter how many lame tricks and techniques they might employ. And I beg any Iowa workshop writer to prove to me that "I get the call as my wife is setting the table for dinner" is a superior opening than this:

"In Santiago, the capital of the kingdom of Chile, at the moment of the great earthquake of 1647 in which many thousands lost their lives, a young Spaniard called Jerónimo Rugera was standing beside one of the pillars in the prison to which he had been committed on a criminal charge, and was about to hang himself." (– from The Earthquake in Chile)

If that opening line doesn't demonstrate it is not vaguery but information that is intriguing, I don't know what does.

And finally, the third rule to writing in an age of frenzied consumption: fuck allegory and symbolism, today's stories don't have to mean anything. I'm not kidding, one day when my coffee was dripping, I wiped the bottom of the cup with this book. That's right– what this book proved itself really to be was, by comparison to my sleeve, a superior napkin.
… (mais)
gunsofbrixton | 1 outra crítica | Mar 30, 2013 |



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