Reviews & Recommendations

20 Writers Under the Age of 40

In case you missed it, I wanted to make note of the fact that The New Yorker recently published their Summer Fiction Issue, in this case the “20 Under 40” issue.

The issue includes short fiction by the likes of Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Safron Foer, Joshua Ferris, ZZ Packer, Daniel Alarcon, and others. Pick it up from newsstands if you get a chance.

But while you’re at it, head over to the New Yorker’s website and check out a series of questionnaires they have with each of these writers. They ask about influences, doubt, what makes a good story, and what their futures hold. Many of who will be interested, and glad I’m sure, to know that both Safron Foer and Krauss are working on new novels, and Krauss, in fact, has a new one forthcoming this Autumn.

Here are a few of my favorite responses to the question “what, in your opinion, makes a piece of fiction work?”:

– From Krauss:
“Its ability to remind us of ourselves, of who we are in our essence, and at the same instant to deliver a revelation.”

– From Joshua Ferris
“Its own insistence upon being reread.”

– From David Bezmozgis
“The best way I can articulate it is to say that a piece of fiction—or really any work of art—has to have at its core some kind of irretrievable loss. There are an infinite number of irretrievable losses—we experience new ones every day. The form of the story, through its language and tone, must then honor that loss without drifting into parody on one side or melodrama on the other—with melodrama being the lesser crime.”

– From Salvatore Scibona
“Word choice. The ability of the book to exceed its premise. The impression of a complete, invented world. Control of the instrument (language). Faith in the unconscious. The ability, as Joan Didion says, “to love and to remain indifferent.”

– From Yiyun Li
“I don’t know. This is an unanswerable question for me.”

– From Rivka Galchen
“Productive confusion. Surprise. Some blood. A little parsley.”

Highly recommend these interviews. They’re a great read, even providing a small clue into the involved and often confused psyches of writers. Some more successful than others.

Also. If you get a chance I recommend taking a look at a blog called, Leslie’s Writing Exercises, which I discovered because the proprietor over there, the not-surprisingly named Leslie, commented on a post here. She has a great post on mistakes beginning writers tend to make. Check it.


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