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Daniel Green
Interests: Good writing, creative and critical.
Recent Activity
My review of Joanna Ruocco's Dan is now available at Kenyon Review: "Clearly Joanna Ruocco would have to be included among those writers devoting themselves to the fabulative mode. Her most recent novel, Dan, is set in the fictional village named in the title, which itself seems to exist somewhere... Continue reading
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TABLE OF CONTENTS Critical Failures James Wood Christopher Hitchens Morris Dickstein Hershel Parker Critical Issues Aesthetic Autonomy Close Reading The Authority of Criticism The Authority of Critics Blogs and Literary Criticism Critical Successes Web Page Susan Sontag Pdf Harold Bloom Epub Richard Poirier William Gass Michael Gorra's Portrait of a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
CRITICAL FAILURES James Wood The limitations of James Wood's How Fiction Works become evident in just its first few pages. In his "Introduction," Wood tells us that although he admires the critics Victor Shklovsky and Roland Barthes, among their deficiencies was their failure to write as if they expected "to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2015 at On Critics and Criticism
My essay-review of John Barth's Collected Stories at The Quarterly Conversation: While numerous works prior to Lost in the Funhouse clearly enough now seem classifiable as postmodern (including Barth’s own previous two novels), it also now seems clear that this book is most responsible for clarifying (and raising) the stakes... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
Full Stop Satin Island, Tom McCarthy (link) I, Bartleby, Meredith Quartermain (link) Book of Numbers, Joshua Cohen (link) Silence and Song, Melanie Rae Thon (link) Kenyon Review Online Once Human, Steve Tomasula (link) Induced Coma, Harold Jaffe (link) Open Letters Monthly The Impossible Craft: Literary Biography, Scott Donaldson (link) The... Continue reading
Sam Sacks on the "insider" ethos in contemporary fiction: What is only rarely found is fiction that starts on the outside and, by virtue of formal innovation and the manipulation of language, stays outside. These are books that deconstruct the very act of reading. . .[T]he truth is that American... Continue reading
Lisa Ruddick on the antihumanist consensus: The poststructuralist critique of the self, though associated with progressive politics, has an unobserved, conservative effect on the lived world of the profession. It protects the institutional status quo by promoting the evacuation of selves into the group. In the story behind the story,... Continue reading
I generally agree with Mark de Silva's critique of contemporary fiction's loss of "visionary" power: In fiction, it seems we’ve grown increasingly accustomed to expecting, even from those we consider our most ambitious literary artists— a previous generation’s list would have included challenging writers like Nabokov, Robbe-Grillet, Pynchon, and Gass—to... Continue reading
I have to say I think Gordon Lish is correct. From what I've seen of Carver's work both pre- and post-Lish, if Carver had not been edited by Lish he would have been just another regressive realist. I was there before there was a record to suffer muddling, confusion, sides... Continue reading
The best book I read in 2015 was John Keene's Counternarratives. Since I will have a review of the book upcoming in Kenyon Review Online, I will not delineate its virtues here, except to say it's the kind of challenging, formally innovative work that is also simply enjoyable to read.... Continue reading
When James Purdy died in 2009 at the age of 94, most people who still recognized his name surely judged that he had long outlived whatever relevance he and his books might once have had. Although he published almost 30 books, according to the James Purdy Society website only 9... Continue reading
There are at least three ways by which we might classify Zachary Thomas Dodson's Bats of the Republic in order to characterize it adequately and evaluate it fairly: as a postapocalyptic narrative, as an example of the "steampunk" subgenre of science fiction, and as a so-called "illuminated" novel. Viewing it... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
Hilary Plum on Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan: When so little of a country’s literature has made its way to us in translation, it’s tempting to read what does appear as “news from elsewhere,” source material to help us understand Indonesia’s history and politics. Yet that would be an injustice to... Continue reading
My review of Melanie Rae Thon's Silence and Song at Full Stop: If Melanie Rae Thon is a writer less widely read than might be expected, given her skill in creating vivid characters and evoking an equally vivid sense of place, among the reasons for this would surely be the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
It is not surprising that one of the blurbs for Julie Reverb's debut novel, No Moon (appearing on the publisher's page--Calamari Archive-- for the book), is from Gary Lutz. While I do not know if the two writers are acquainted, or if Reverb would explicitly claim Lutz as an influence,... Continue reading
"The very title of this novel announces a departure for Matt Bell. Scrapper—with its homely brevity and flat vowels—stands in striking contrast to the Biblical roll of Bell’s 2013 In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. So too, more substantial elements in the new book... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at Critical Reading
The very title of this novel announces a departure for Matt Bell. Scrapper—with its homely brevity and flat vowels—stands in striking contrast to the Biblical roll of Bell’s 2013 In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. So too, more substantial elements in the new book... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at Critical Reading
My review of Scott Donaldson's The Impossible Craft: Literary Biography at Open Letters Monthly: If Donaldson believes that the claim for biography as a critical tool doesn’t need defending, he is wrong. That biography in itself can enlighten us about a writer’s work is mere conjecture short of an explanation... Continue reading
Anyone who has read Gilbert Sorrentino knows that he was constantly trying out structural devices that would substitute for conventional narrative in fiction. In a 2006 review I wrote of Sorrentino's penultimate novel, A Strange Commonplace, a structurally bifurcated novel whose twin halves mirror and repeat each other, I suggested... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
"Literary citizenship" is a concept that many writers apparently take quite seriously, as it has evolved from a metaphorical notion that writers should advocate on behalf of literature generally to a quasi-literal requirement that they be good citizens in the "literary community" at large, whose well-being they are expected to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
Tom LeClair's Lincoln's Billy is a work of revisionist historical fiction somewhat similar to Thomas Berger's Little Big Man or Pynchon's Mason & Dixon. Like those novels, it refuses to take iconic American history at face value, presents a version of that history at odds with received wisdom and national... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
My review of Joshua Cohen's Book of Numbers: Readers who may have shied away from Joshua Cohen’s previous novel, Witz (2010), because of its daunting length (over 800 pages) and presumed difficulty will probably find his new novel, Book of Numbers, rather less intimidating and more accessible, if not exactly... Continue reading
My essay-review of Harold Jaffe's Induced Coma is now available at The Kenyon Review Online: If any writer deliberately proceeded throughout his career to almost ensure his work would be ignored by critics and publishers, it would have to be Harold Jaffe. Jaffe has steadfastly continued to write fiction that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
Each of Jeremy M. Davies's first two novels, Rose Alley (2009) and Fancy (2014), emphatically reject the notion that, in fiction, form serves content, proceeding instead as each of them do by establishing a form to which narrative content must accommodate itself. Rose Alley especially subordinates its "story" to the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience
The impatience with which many writers (and some critics) regard "negative" reviews is in part a natural enough response, reflecting the tense relationship between artists and their critics that has probably always existed. On the other hand, it seems to me that such tension has become particularly acute in our... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2015 at Daniel Green's The Reading Experience