Ava Bigtree is the undeniable star of Karen Russell’s 2011 novel Swamplandia!, and with good reason. She narrates at least half of the book, and her painful move toward acceptance of her mother’s death is clearly its centerpiece theme. But Swamplandia! is also a novel very much concerned with work. As a sort [...]
Pastors and Masters has continued to prove difficult to write about. Usually when that happens I come up with some strategy for attack. Attack! Break it down, pull it apart, expose all the works inside, say something. I managed only the tinest bit of that in my post on its style.
Part of [...]
I hoped to squeeze in a fifth Stoner post on Friday, but you know what Fridays are like—not super motivational. So you get one on Monday instead! On Thursday I discussed Stoner’s class mobility and status as a class protector. Rise pointed, in a comment, to his review of the novel, where he [...]
One of the things that interested me most about Stoner—at least, potentially—was its being about a child of farmers, raised to be a farmer himself, who goes on instead to perform a serious feat of class mobility and turns up an English professor.
Rohan Maitzen described Stoner’s parents in her post on the [...]
William Stoner’s seminar on the Latin Tradition and Renaissance Literature in the fall semester of 1931 is important both to the novel and to my own purposeful reading of it. On the one hand, it is critical to the plot (I feel like I should say, critical to the trajectory of Stoner’s life), [...]
One question that never fails to come up in discussion of the writing about work I’m searching for is whether it’s not just too boring to write about. For some people, the answer is clearly yes—which, again, are the chapters everyone hates in Moby-Dick? I don’t think those people will care much for [...]
I’ve been struggling all day with “Zapatos.” I find it very difficult to write about short stories—which frustrates me even more because I really like the form. But I will not capitulate; I will do my work. (I swear, I will give up on the work jokes soon.)
T.C. Boyle opens the story [...]
I don’t like to say that “the work project is under way,” or that it’s gotten under way, since my last week’s post on it, because really the work project was always under way—or at least, it has been for several years. It’s just one of those things that I notice when I [...]