Archive for the ‘Novel’ Category

…you owe it to your readers to set yourself the most difficult challenge that you have some hope of being equal to. With every book, you have to dig as deep as possible and reach as far as possible. And if you do this, and you succeed in producing a reasonably good book, it means that the next time you try to write a book, you’re going to have to dig even deeper and reach even farther, or else, again, it won’t be worth writing.

Jonathan Franzen, from Farther Away

(and see James Santel’s excellent review of Farther Away)


Baz Luhrmann is directing a new film version of Scott Fitzgerald‘s “perfect” novel, The Great Gatsby. The film will be released next summer and stars Leonardo Di Caprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carroway. Click here to see a Daily Mail article on the filming that contains some terrific pictures of the actors in period dress. Fitzgerald’s writing in Gatsby, of course, is so beautiful that Hunter Thompson typed the text word-for-word just to get closer to the language. As have many others, including the Bat Terrier. You should certainly celebrate news of the film by reading Gatsby again. Click here for a free e-book.

… If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won’t survive the ordeal. People without hope not only do not write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have an experience.

Flannery O’Connor

Or, for a salvation plea you can dance to, there’s this…

Jennifer Egan, who just won the National Book Critic Circle Award for Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for A Visit from the Goon Squad, gives advice on writing. Click here.

Most interesting takeaway–

She set three rules for writing this book:
1. Every chapter must have a different protagonist.
2. Every chapter must have a different theme and feel.
3. Each chapter must stand alone.

Fiction writers, what do you think of this advice? Bat Terrier would love to hear more in the comments.

Sator Press Book Sale: Pay-Whatever. No Kidding.

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 in Novel

Sator Press is offering a real live book for sale at any price you want to pay. Buy the novel, The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, by Christopher Higgs and pay what you like. This seems to be totally legit. Check the link.

SATOR PRESS // Holding great works..

Paul De Witt writes a Western, and then talks about it here. Is there new life in this hoary old form? The Western, of course, found a new Renaissance in film with Clint Eastwood‘s Unforgiven, but hasn’t seen much action as a literary genre, despite Larry McMurtry‘s best efforts. (Although Bat Terrier still really likes Ron Hansen‘s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.)

You love The Paris Review but crave a bargain? Here’s the link for you–get a 25% discount on yr subscription.

And (finally!)  Art Journal puts up a website.

Change or die: Canadian author Derek Beaulieu says the novel is either dying or on its way to reinvention. (Meanwhile, in 2008, the last year for which data is available, publishers in the United States published more than 47,000 fiction titles. Fiction is still the top-selling category in book publishing. See Bowker‘s statistics here. Bat Terrier assumes the vast bulk of these novels are “traditional” narratives and that the genre remains stubbornly un-reinvented.)

And… So you wanna be a critic? John Sutherland‘s top 10 books about books, from Aristotle’s Poetics to Henry Louis Gate’s The Signifying Monkey.

Levi Bryant on character in novels:

Characters in novels should be written from the outside in, gradually revealing themselves through the perspectives of other characters…  The being of the character should always be slipping away, unclear, fraught… The identity of a character should be like a mystery in a detective novel, but without resolution. The points of view should say more about the person who views than what is viewed. But even that should slip away and be elusive…

More at “Characters” (and the comments are interesting, too).

Virginia Woolf in 1902

“Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.” –VW

Virginia Woolf wrote game-changing fiction every bit as radiant and profound as Joyce‘s, Faulkner‘s and Proust‘s–and she wrote essays better than any of them did. She is, in Bat Terrier’s estimation, Serious Business.

You can read most of Woolf’s major works, and a lot of the major criticism of her, for free on the web. Books here , criticism here.

Want to hear her voice? Here’s the only surviving audio recording we have.

And here are photos of books that Woolf bound by hand.

Excellent article by Chad Harbach on the two literary cultures in the United States: MFA programs and Brooklyn/NYC. What motivates these two cultures? What are their canons? Recommended.

And here’s Paul Collins on what the Victorians, including Henry James, thought about training writers.

And Christian Wiman, editor of that venerable magazine, Poetry, on what’s he reading now.