I recently reviewed Dawn Raffel’s excellent first collection of short stories from 1995, In the Year of Long Division, at Fictionaut. A while back BR Meyers wrote an essay in The Atlantic, “A Reader’s Manifesto,” which took contemporary writing to task for its focus on the cult of the sentence. He found some choice passages from some very well regarded writers such as Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, Annie Proulx, and others. Although these quotes supported Meyer’s point, I never felt really satisfied that the focus on the sentence and syntax in prose is necessarily a bad thing. Raffel is a case in point. I think Dawn Raffel is a great example of a writer who can write anything: a sentence, fragment, a word. Raffel has a new collection of stories, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, coming out from Dzanc Books.
At Reading Local: Seattle I reviewed two books. The Good Times Are All Gone Now was a straight-forward history of an Idaho mining town. Julie Weston’s book is rich in interviews and particular observations of the working conditions in the mines and the lives of the miners, pimps, prostitutes, gamblers, and high school students during the hey-day of extracting ore in Kellogg, Idaho. The other book, no surrender, was a Lulu.com produced book by Seattle’s Gregory Hofmann that was a model of how to use Lulu’s frustrating 6 x 9 trade format.