Cindy's blog

Gritty suspense as a Jumpstart

I imagine it must take some training, and discipline, to become a professional art critic. Namely, a book reviewer. Aside from having an almost comprehensive knowledge base of literary art, one must exercise some semblance of professional distance from the work. It would be easy to give high marks to any work that moved you in a personal way, but it must also be important to award prestige to works that excel in their craft even if one personally disagreed with it. In a very roundabout way, I’d like compare this critics’ dilemma to becoming burnt out on fiction.

The Jane Austen Effect

A friend recently described my reading taste as “bell jar-ry,” which is spot-on. I typically like my fiction dark and dysfunctional. Domestic dramas with conflicted characters and gritty, unresolved endings are my preference—most of the time. But every so often, usually during the summer, I crave a charming romantic comedy. I call this the Jane Austen Effect. Jane Austen made me a lifelong reader, and I have happy, almost cellular, memories of reading and re-reading a worn-out Penguin classics copy of Pride and Prejudice.

Ecstatic Fiction by Nick

In college I attended a lecture where the late great Kurt Vonnegut spoke to a humid room full of of English and Creative Writing majors. He ruminated on quite a few things, jumping from tangent to tangent as if he was merely thinking aloud instead of speaking to an auditorium full of wide eyed, enthusiastic wannabe writers and critics. Sure, I would have preferred to hear him wax on the future of rhetoric, the changing role of fiction in contemporary America, but I was in the same room as Kurt Vonnegut, so I really couldn’t ask more from my experience.

The End of the World As We Knew It by Rebecca

The minute I finish a really amazing novel, I am usually at a loss for words. It’s kind of ironic that my first reaction to the powerful and artful use of language is silence. Maybe that’s the appropriate response to art. Still, I will try to cobble some words together, so that I might share with others how much I loved Adam Haslet’s novel Union Atlantic . Readers’ Advisory Librarian Joyce Saricks encourages librarians to write down three words that describe every book they read.

The Amazing Three States of Amazement by Rebecca

As I’m writing this post, news is swirling about the death of Osama Bin Laden. And in the hours after this news, national fatigue, doubt, and anxiety gave way to spontaneous cheering in Washington , New York, and, most likely in private residences throughout the country. We feel a collective sense of pride and a sigh of relief this morning, but I have to wonder at what will remain—how citizens will construct meaning from this decade long mission and what the American identity will look like in another ten years.

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