Category Archives: Books

Genre trouble: toneless realism (definition with polemic asides)

Back in 2011, one of my NaNo buddies asked me to define “toneless realism,” which I’d used in the course of critical response. The e-mail I wrote in response is an essay with examples, reproduced here. *** What is toneless realism? … Continue reading

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The real face of evil looks a lot like a garden slug, or why J. R. R. Tolkien kept the Big Bad off stage

I’m two-thirds of the way through The Two Towers, where the point-of-view swings back to Tolkien’s unlikely hobbit-hero Frodo and his faithful sidekick Sam, several days into some seriously uninviting territory. There’s a lot of rather foreboding and on occasion actively … Continue reading

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Six Sentence Sunday, 27 January 2013 (Necromancer and Barbarian character interview)

I don’t have those moments when I’m about the work but in odd times between, when something rears up from the depths to remind me of my secret life: a pulse of fear, and then I remind myself that it’s … Continue reading

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Apprenticing with the Dead: A Strong Dose of Truth (James Baldwin)

The last time that I read James Baldwin’s collected essays (in the Library of America edition) was 2006, on a road trip from Minneapolis to Cleveland to see my mentor, who was active in the civil rights movement and had … Continue reading

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Apprenticing with the Dead: Reading Tolkien 35 Years Late

When I was in high school in the late 1970s, everybody was reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. I resisted, for reasons I didn’t fully understand at the time. I think if you’d asked me then, I would have … Continue reading

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Six Sentence Sunday, 6 January 2013 (The Lost Pissarro)

New York in the summer time. New York under a blazing sun that seemed to have transported itself from the New Mexico desert. New York broiled in a heat wave that reminded her of a glassmaker’s kiln. Waves of heat … Continue reading

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Writer Interview: The Next Big Thing (I’m the interviewee this time)

I’ve been tagged twice now for The Next Big Thing, by J. M. Blackman and Devin Harnois, so in honor of the new year and all, here goes. Watch this spot for an update on the next blogs I’m linking … Continue reading

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