Book Ends (and Beginnings)

I was lucky enough to interview Tania James in The Nervous Breakdown about her forthcoming collection of stories, Aerogrammes. You can read it here. Tania's stories remind me of Hondas; well-constructed, long mileage life. They're not overly flashy, like Maseratis or Porches, with big voices and very hip masculine pronouncements, nor are they wacky stories with crazy titles about bunnies on LSD trying to make connections in this drab pre-apocalyptic world, but they're dependable and have the fine-tuned feel of a good MFA program. The kind of stories I'd been missing. They served to remind me, in the this crazy place of tweets and pomo fiction and word salad, that craftsmanship makes a good case for longevity. And, her story, "What to Do with Henry," made me cry. I can't remember the last time a story made me do that. You can buy it here. You should.

Speaking of the craft, I enjoyed this post by Jim Behrle on how to write the great American novel.

I just began Teju Cole's Open City. I was enchanted by the first chapter, the prose, the descriptions, but inevitably, in a book without plot, smeared with pastiches of impressions and landscape and memory, the gears of the book are slowing grinding to a halt. I'm sure I will finish it. And I'm sure I will walk away as impressed as I was when I started. I'm just saying that if your novel has no arc, no plot, no consumptive need on the part of the main character, if your sight-seeing boat never leaves the dock, you're going to have a hard time selling tickets to a lot of people.

On my playlist: Beach Fossils, Women, Future Islands, Sharon van Etten.