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Daniel Green
Interests: Good writing, creative and critical.
Recent Activity
Charles Baxter's stories, as collected in Gryphon, seem to me to epitomize an approach to fiction writing that has become the trademark approach in the era of the Creative Writing program and its "workshop" method of instruction. Whether Baxter has simply become the most consistent enabler of this approach, or... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
I think it is fair to say that, although particular books of his might receive a few less-than-effusive endorsements, Richard Russo is a highly regarded novelist among mainstream American book reviewers. Although Empire Falls seems to be the work that received the greatest praise, and remains a critical favorite, reviews... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
Readers of Kent Haruf’s previous books will surely know what to expect from his new novel, Benediction: a work of austere realism, probably weaving together several separate but related narratives, set in rural Holt county on the high plains of northeastern Colorado. They will expect the novel to be written... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
The two primary modes or tendencies in Richard Ford's fiction are juxtaposed most prominently in The Sportswriter and Rock Springs, published in 1986 and 1987, respectively. Rock Springs is a collection of short stories set in the Western United States, in and around Great Falls, Montana in particular. The stories... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
Lorrie Moore's first two books, the story collection Self-Help (1985) and the novel Anagrams (1986), introduced a writer possessing an appealing comic touch, lightly applied but not reducible to mere "humor," and a modest if still palpable impulse to formal experiment. Self-Help incorporated as a formal strategy the conventions of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
Denis Johnson’s previous novel, Nobody Move (2009), was a tepid, forgettable work of “noir” crime fiction. Even so, perhaps what made this novel so disappointing was not that it was formulaic or derivative, but that finally it failed to be as “noir” as Johnson’s own non-genre fiction, which habitually casts... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
I Forsaking Illusions Richard Powers clearly signaled in his auspicious first novel, Three Farmers On Their Way to a Dance(1985), that his fiction would not conform to the then-emerging conventions of literary minimalism or participate in the full-scale return to the values of traditional realism that would characterize much literary... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
Philip Roth has given the short novels Everyman, Indignation, The Humbling, and now Nemesis the collective designation "Nemeses: Short Novels." Regarding the four together at the least inevitably invites reflection both on the possible connections and correspondences among them and on their status as works of the "late" phase of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
Among those American writers who were originally identified as "minimalists," a group that would include Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason, Ann Beattie, and Tobias Wolff, Mary Robison may have been the most minimalist of them all--or, to use the word she has said she prefers to describe the narrative/expository strategy... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
Affliction Perhaps because American fiction has always been especially animated by the opposing tendencies toward realism on the one hand and fabulation on the other, toward the "novel" as developed in Europe and toward what Hawthorne insisted was "romance," writers' allegiances to either of these modes often seem as much... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
The publication of Ottessa Moshfegh’s story collection, Homesick for Another World, does not so much allow us to measure the progress of this writer’s talent following on her first two published books, the novella McGlue and the novel Eileen, the latter of which in particular generated considerable enthusiasm among readers... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Nicholson Baker's fiction is the way it seems both to ingratiate and provoke, aspires to be both accessible and difficult. Most of his novels could be described as at the same time formally simple--a man tends to his six-month old baby one afternoon, two... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Realisms
While “surfing” the world wide web in late 2003, I began noticing certain websites—they looked more like online diaries—discussing books and writers with an enthusiasm and a seriousness of purpose I was not seeing elsewhere on the web. I then had some nascent ideas of my own about how the... Continue reading
Motives In a recent profile of critic Stanley Fish, Fish is quoted as having said, "Literary interpretation, like virtue, is its own reward. I do it because I like the way I feel when I'm doing it." He further amplifies: You do this kind of work simply because it's the... Continue reading
Matter John Domini’s The Sea-God’s Herb is first of all a collection of lively book reviews (supplemented with a few longer essays) covering almost forty years of Domini’s work as a literary critic in such venues as The New Republic, the Boston Globe, and Bookforum, as well as numerous literary... Continue reading
A reviewer of Joanna Rucco's Dan tells us that Reading Dan is like having a bot worm medically expelled from your body. You suspected there was something wrong, something in you that wasn’t right, and by mysterious ways of medical linguistics Ruocco has not only identified the parasite, but found... Continue reading
It might indeed be the case that many "negative" reviews of fiction are glib and opportunistic exercises in what has come to be called snark. Such reviews make little real effort to adequately describe the ambitions and strategies of the book under review, or to assess the book's success or... Continue reading
In her book Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America (University of Missouri Press), former Boston Review editor Gail Pool writes: Readers dismayed by the lack of criticism in reviews won't find more of it in other coverage, most of which is promotion, sometimes in disguise. Newspaper book... Continue reading
For all of the ambivalence it seems to provoke in many readers and critics, the American fiction of the 1960s and 1970s (with scattered precursors in the 1950s and and a few lingering appearances in the 1980s) that probably will now permanently be called "postmodern" continues to make its influence... Continue reading
It's hard to know why the Kurt Vonnegut stories collected in Look at the Birdie were published—literally. The book includes a brief introduction by Vonnegut's friend Sidney Offit, who tells us they may have remained unpublished because "for one reason or another they didn't satisfy Kurt" but otherwise gives no... Continue reading
If we are to come to some conclusion about whether it is useful to think of Stanley Elkin as an "American Jewish writer," we should make a distinction between those Jewish writers—Singer, Malamud, Steve Stern—who habitually write about Jewish characters and customs, often in a recognizably Jewish milieu, and those... Continue reading
WHAT'S HUMOROUS ABOUT BLACK HUMOR? Terry Southern It is tempting to conclude that Terry Southern has faded from the cultural memory because his work feels unavoidably "dated" due to its contemporaneous references, its time-bound subjects, the decidedly démodé familiarity of its postwar disaffection. From this perspective, Southern was essentially a... Continue reading
Although the term was certainly not new (a book about French fiction exhibiting it had appeared in the 1930s) and had already been used to describe some of the writers included in the anthology, "black humor" as an apt designation for a kind of American fiction being written in the... Continue reading
Bruce Jay Friedman has been a presence on the American literary and cultural scene for a very long time. He has published over twenty books and authored (or co-authored) numerous plays and screenplays. His work, however, is still most often considered as a contribution to the emergence of "black humor"... Continue reading
WHAT IS (WAS) BLACK HUMOR? Catch-22 and the Humor of Black Humor One can't help but note that in the critical commentary about the fiction of the 1950s and 60s known as "black humor" there is much discussion of what makes such fiction "black", but little of its humor. The... Continue reading