For more, try:
Our Stories’ 2009 interview with Dybek
A 1997 profile of Kincaid in Mother Jones
For each story, please address one or more of the following questions in your response. Remember to keep these brief–about a paragraph or so in length.
1) What’s the emotion most at play in Dybek’s story? How does he achieve that effect? (Hint: take a look at the very beginning and the very end of the story.)
2) Take a look at the long paragraph that begins on the bottom of page 182 and continues about halfway down page 183. How does the style of this paragraph (language, rhythm, punctuation) relate to its subject matter? What’s the effect on you as a reader?
3) “Girl” is a dialogue between two characters. Who are they, and where is the evidence in the story to back up your claim?
4) Why do you think Kincaid chose the structure she did?
Your options for the book review assignment are listed below. This is due with your portfolio at the end of the semester, but it’s a good idea to start reading now. Feel free to read many and review the one you liked best!
Sherman Alexie, Ten Little Indians
Chris Adrian, A Better Angel
Kate Atkinson, Case Histories
Rebecca Barry, Later, at the Bar
Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love
Peter Bognanni, The House of Tomorrow
Grégoire Bouillier, The Mystery Guest
Kevin Brockmeier, The Truth About Celia
Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down
Etgar Keret, The Nimrod Flipout
Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs
Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats
Carolyn Parkhurst, The Dogs of Babel
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
Asali Solomon, Get Down
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Jincy Willett, Jenny and the Jaws of Life
Meg Wolitzer, The Position
In both of these pieces, pay particular attention to word choice, patterns, and the intentional subverting of readerly expectations.
1) If we read “The School” under the expectations of strict realism, we’d be horrified. Where and how does Barthelme provide clues within the text for how to read this story?
2) Why does Barthelme use an adult’s voice to ask children’s questions? (or, why are these children so strangely adult-like?)
3) “Orientation” works with an interesting and intricate point of view/narrative distance. Why does Orozco give such detailed, personal information about everyone except the narrator?
4) What’s so significant about the repetition of the phrase “he/she/you might be let go?”
Please address one or more of the following questions in your response. Remember to keep these brief–about a paragraph or so in length.
1) Pay close attention to this story’s structure and use of flashback and memory. Why do you think Gaitskill made the choices she did? In particular, why dos the very last memory appear at the end of the story?
2) Why are we never shown the father and Kitty interacting during the story’s present action?
3) How do you feel toward the father character, and how does Gaitskill achieve that effect?
For more George Saunders, try:
George Saunders on The Colbert Report (October 8, 2007)
His short story, “Puppy” (The New Yorker, May 28, 2007)
Please address the following questions in your response. Remember to keep this brief–about a paragraph or so.
This piece incorporates elements of genre fiction (the zombie/horror story), but goes in unexpected directions with it. Does it work? Why/why not?
What are Saunders’ obsessions? What would you say is his writerly project, and how does he go about exploring it in this particular piece?