Blog Profile / Mark Athitakis' American Fiction Notes

Filed Under:Academics / Literature
Posts on Regator:96
Posts / Week:0.2
Archived Since:August 2, 2009

Blog Post Archive

Four Fictions

The feature well of this week’s issue of Washington City Paper is dedicated to fiction for the first time in a long time. I sifted through the 50-odd submissions to pick three short stories, and also invited a pro, Eugenia … Continue reading ?

Ten 2012 Books I Wish Received More Attention in 2012

I hesitate to say something simpler, like “Ten Overlooked 2012 Books”—these days even the books that dominate chatter about literary fiction generate such little attention in the wider world that even the award winners qualify as overlooked. Why the books … Continue reading ?

New Yorker Magazine; Fiction; Keywording

You’re reading a novel. “What’s it about?” somebody asks. What do you say? The question grates; there’s no good answer for it, no easy way to address it. Book reviewers who are trained to avoid all but the briefest sketch … Continue reading ?

Seven Things I Think I Think About Book Reviews

Last Sunday I took part in a panel at the Writer’s Center titled “The Future of the Book Review,” joined by the Washington Post‘s Dennis Drabelle and the Washington Independent Review of Books‘ David O. Stewart. In advance of the … Continue reading ?


“There’s something amiss,” fumed Michael Cunningham, one of the three members of the Pulitzer Prize fiction jury whose work was undone—or at least unsettled—by the Pulitzer board, which couldn’t pick a winner. People look to awards to either settle a … Continue reading ?

Some Housekeeping Notes

1. Ron Slate, who runs the thoughtful blog Above the Seawall, invited me and 11 other writers to recommend a recent work of fiction. I wrote about Lionel Shriver‘s new novel, The New Republic, which you may have heard is … Continue reading ?

A Novel Is a Pattern

Colm Toibin: The novel is not a moral fable or a tale from the Bible, or an exploration of the individual’s role in society; it is not our job to like or dislike characters in fiction, or make judgments on … Continue reading ?

The Discipline of Form and the Love of an Educated Heart

From a 1959 essay, “Epitaph for the Beat Generation,” included the new anthology of John Leonard‘s essays, Reading for My Life: [The Beats] proved at least one thing more. That poetry, painting, music, and fiction are products of the individual. … Continue reading ?

The World Is Already Filled to Bursting

Lawrence Weschler on why he doesn’t write fiction: [T]he part of my sensibility which I demonstrate in nonfiction makes fiction an impossible mode for me. That’s because for me the world is already filled to bursting with interconnections, interrelationships, consequences, … Continue reading ?

An Interesting Neutrality

In the Wall Street Journal, Lee Sandlin discusses two hard-boiled crime authors whose work has recently been anthologized, Paul Cain and David Goodis. I’m pretty familiar with Goodis, but Cain (no relation to James M.) is new to me. Sandlin … Continue reading ?

Loved and Outgrew, Hated and Admired Later

Helen DeWitt, at a reporter’s prompting, lists some of the books she most likes to return to: Rereading is important for writers because people in the publishing industry constantly give advice couched in terms of helping the reader.   If you … Continue reading ?

Everybody’s Doing It

The Los Angeles Review of Books has a lengthy piece on self-published authors and how difficult it can be for them to get review attention. I’m quoted in it a couple of times, repeating what’s been a stock line for … Continue readin...

Sentence Form

Since last fall Tin House‘s blog has been running a recurring series called “The Art of the Sentence,” in which various writers celebrate a particular line they admire in a work of fiction. The choices and commentary are hit and … Continue reading ?

Getting Away With It

Joseph O’Neill considers Philip Roth‘s late novels in the Atlantic (American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, and The Human Stain; have been collected in a new volume from the Library of America): Much of the action in these novels takes … Continue reading ?

Who’s Done More Damage to Fictional Narrative?

Modernists? Or Richard Nixon? A passage from Charles Baxter‘s essay “Dysfunctional Narratives, or: ‘Mistakes Were Made’”: What difference does it make to writers of stories if public figures are denying their responsibility for their own actions? So what if they … Continue reading ?

More Sad Literary Young Men

At the New York Review of Books blog, Elaine Blair delivers a kind of update on Katie Roiphe‘s 2010 broadside on the (in Roiphe’s view) insipid boyishness of the generation of male novelists who followed Updike, Mailer, and Roth. Blair … Continue reading ?

Two Reviews

Coming off my recent back-and-forth with Jennifer Howard about Henry Adams‘ Democracy, it was fun to think about Thomas Mallon‘s new novel, Watergate, which I reviewed for the Barnes & Noble Review. Mallon has a long view on D.C. political … Continue reading ?

“Democracy”: Swamp Creatures and New Monuments Continue reading ?

Democracy: Skepticism Versus Cynicism

This is the third in a series of posts between myself and Jennifer Howard about Henry Adams’ 1880 novel, Democracy. Read her first post. Jennifer, Your point about Madeleine’s transgression is right, and, yes, a little chilling: Her mistake isn’t … Continue reading ?

Democracy: A Funny Town for a Woman

This is the first post in a discussion on Jennifer Howard‘s blog and mine about Henry Adams‘ 1880 novel, Democracy. For more background, you can read my introductory post as well as Jennifer’s. Jennifer, So, why did we decide to … Continue reading ?

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