As imagination is considered a childlike, and often childish attribute, writers don’t learn to cultivate their imaginations. When writers don’t use their imaginations…state and capital do. So we arrange our white men up front and put the black men behind, parade our own pasts to the public for collective amusement—Look, I was poor, but then I wrote a book! Look, I drank too much, but then I stopped and wrote a book!—and retell the adventure stories we remember seeing on television as kids.
- Nick Mamatas, All Power to the Imagination…Again
If you are drawn to graduate study in creative writing, you probably love language and beautiful and original sentences, the feeling that the right choices in language can somehow give birth to a unique and startling understanding of the world. Sentences and language and what language gives birth to in fiction—atmosphere, voice—become the focal point of what you talk about in your group. It also happens that these are relatively easier things to talk when presented a 20-page excerpt from something much larger for discussion. In that context it’s easy to note an original and arresting metaphor or dazzling bit of verbal work, but very difficult to talk about a novel’s architecture, so the value of language continues to be reinforced inside the group.
- John Warner, from Match Commentary on the Quarter Finals match up between Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife in The Morning News Tournament of Books (The Tournament of Books enters the Semifinals on Monday.)
I mean, I’ve received negative reviews in the past, and I liked to think I was someone that could handle a few bad reviews. But overall, prior to this Tournament most of the reviews of Green Girl have been really really positive. So I was totally unprepared for how passionate these Tournament of Books readers and fans were — I mean, they go for the throat. And almost overwhelmingly people who were commenting about this seemed to just really passionately hate the book. Initially I was really shocked by it, and felt really raw and sensitive about it. It was a lot to calibrate.
- Kate Zambreno, in Edith Zimmerman’s A Conversation with Kate Zambreno, Author of Green Girl (Edith Zimmerman was the judge for the Tournament of Books’ Opening Round match up between Green Girl and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot.)
At any rate, the moment came when the essay began to confuse itself with the article, and to assume an obligation of constancy to premises and conclusions, with the effect of so depraving the general taste that the article is now desired more and more, and the essay less and less.
All these writers it seems to me, by suggesting that beyond a certain point a book might end anywhere, legitimize the notion that the reader may choose for him or herself, without detracting anything from the experience, where to bow out (of Proust’s Recherche for example, or The Magic Mountain).