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Daniel Green
Interests: Good writing, creative and critical.
Recent Activity
I fear that the house style of Htmlgiant, which billed itself as the literary magazine of the future, is becoming something like the norm. If that site (now apparently defunct) is a model for the future, contributors are going to have to become better at reviewing, or literature is in a lot of trouble.
Toggle Commented Oct 12, 2014 on Something Wrong at DANIEL GREEN
All future posts will now appear here. Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2013 at thereadingexperience
My review of Pynchon's Bleeding Edge has now been posted at Full Stop: Bleeding Edge is a book worth reading simply because it’s by Thomas Pynchon, although anyone contemplating it as an introduction to Pynchon’s work should instead go immediately to V or Gravity’s Rainbow or even The Crying of Lot 49, which, although now apparently somewhat disdained by Pynchon, has long served as a more accessibly condensed example of Pynchon’s literary strategies and worldview. Ultimately, however, Bleeding Edge is not so much “minor” Pynchon as it is a kind of synthetic replica of a Thomas Pynchon novel, all the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2013 at thereadingexperience
In a review of the novel in Review 31, Helen McClory makes a curious criticism of Helen DeWitt's 2011 novel, Lightning Rods: What it lacks is interiority. The narration, because it is so slick and over-worked, has the feel of a voice-over; it's all surface, even when we are ostensibly presented with access to the minds of the characters. This creates a sensation of hollowness. . . The total misperception of DeWitt's purpose in Lightning Rods is extraordinary. As almost all other reviewers of this novel observed, it is most certainly a novel of "interiority," although it is a special... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2013 at thereadingexperience
My review of Those Whom I Would Like to Meet Again by the Lithuanian writer Giedra Radvilaviciute is now available in the Fall issue of The Quarterly Conversation: What is most significant in the publisher’s description of Radvilaviciute’s writing is that it identifies the contents of this book as “stories.” Although these “stories” are further characterized as “combining fiction, memoir, and essay,” this attempted clarification is more confusing that illuminating—to what extent can fiction, memoir, and essay really be “combined”?—and finally doesn’t adequately prepare the reader for the true indeterminacy of genre these stories achieve. Clearly enough the intention is... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2013 at thereadingexperience
Graham Harman's attempt to elevate H.P. Lovecraft to the pantheon of supreme literary artists in his book, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy (Zero Books, 2012), begins with a defense of Lovecraft's work against what is probably the most famous dismissal of it, made by the critic Edmund Wilson in the 1930s. "The principal feature of Lovecraft's work," wrote Wilson, "is an elaborate concocted myth" about "a race of outlandish gods and grotesque prehistoric peoples who are always playing tricks with time and space and breaking through into the contemporary world, usually somewhere in Massachusetts." One of Lovecraft's stories, "At the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2013 at thereadingexperience
My review of Joseph McElroy's Cannonball is now available at Full Stop. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2013 at thereadingexperience
I am currently writing an extended response to Graham Harman's book, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy, but there are some issues related to Harman's underlying assumptions, assumptions directly related to Object-Oriented Ontology/Speculative Realism, that I also need to think my way through even if I don't take them up directly in the response. These issues concern Harman's critique of New Criticism, specifically represented by Cleanth Brooks. Harman asserts that Brooks was guilty of what Harman calls the "Taxonomic Fallacy," by which he makes an untenable distinction between literature and the discourse of science and philosophy. "For while it is correct... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2013 at thereadingexperience
(Note: This essay was published in the American Book Review in 2000. In the thirteen years since, ABR has never made it available online, so I am taking advantage of the fact that I recently discovered the typescript of the essay to post it here. The essay still seems pertinent to me, although the "curricular wars" were perhaps more heated in the late 1990s than now.) In his recent book In Plato's Cave, Alvin Kernan describes a career crisis that he no doubt shared with many other literary scholars of his generation: The canon of great books, authors and their... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2013 at thereadingexperience
My review of William Gass's Middle C is now available at Identity Theory: If writers such as Gary Lutz, Diane Williams, and Christine Schutt have brought increased attention to the sentence as the fundamental, perhaps even self-sufficient, source of aesthetic interest in fiction, the most important precursor to their particular kind of inspired sentence-making must be William H. Gass. While these writers cite Gordon Lish and his notion of “consecution” as the most immediate influence on their own practice of allowing form to evolve from the serial progression of meticulously constructed sentences rather than regarding form as the pre-existing container... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2013 at thereadingexperience
I've rarely read an essay whose title so inaccurately signals its content than Annie Murphy Paul's "Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer," posted at Time.com. It is ostensibly a response to Gregory Currie's post on the New York Times's Opinionator blog, "Does Great Literature Make Us Better?," but in fact after quoting Currie's contention there is little evidence "that people are morally or socially better for reading Tolstoy," Paul does not discuss "literature" at all but instead moves on to make claims about the nature of reading that can't withstand scrutiny and do nothing to show that reading literary... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2013 at thereadingexperience
My review of Haruf's Benediction at Full Stop: If Benediction does seem “authentic” as a kind of slice-of-life account of the lives of people like those living in his fictional Holt County, we might nevertheless still ask whether, 150 years after its ascension, this sort of realism retains credibility as an aesthetic strategy in fiction. If we grant that Haruf employs the conventions associated with such realism very well, what do we find in a novel like this that we wouldn’t find in the fiction of those writers on whose work it is modeled? What do we find that is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2013 at thereadingexperience
In a post at the Guardian's Books blog, Stuart Kelly argues that we have reached the end of the "genre wars" in criticism, although this has not yet fully registered with publishers and booksellers, who still cling to increasingly "irrelevant" distinctions among genres. Although I can't disagree with Kelly that few literary critics would want to "dismiss genre writing solely on the basis that it is genre writing," the very fact that "genre" is no longer a barrier to critical respectability (to the extent it ever was) makes his reasoning when accounting for the persistence of genre categories all the... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2013 at thereadingexperience
Colin Marshall provides a very good introduction to the South Korean novelist Kim Young-ha, but in the midst of discussing the newly translated Black Flower, he suddenly informs us parenthetically that "I look forward to Korea's coming film adaptation of Your Republic is Calling You, but a cinematic version of Black Flower could do even better, with this high watermark of futility in its New Korea episode, assuming it finds the right director — Werner Herzog, for instance." This preoccupation with the film version, or the possibility of a film version, of a work of fiction has become very annoying... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2013 at thereadingexperience
It appears there are still those in mainstream media and publishing worrying over the the dilution of "standards" in the era of the internet and of self-publishing. Alison Walsh at the Irish Independent is concerned that In the 'anyone can do it' age, it seems that all you have to do is join a creative writing group, or upload a short story on to one of many websites, or chat to your friends on author forums and hey, presto. But while writing courses can encourage a certain standard, can make you aware of point of view and plot development, can... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2013 at thereadingexperience
D. G. Myers wants to know "what happened to literary history?" According to Myers, "Seven decades after John Crowe Ransom named the movement, the New Critics have achieved what they were after. . .The syllabus of nearly every English course is little more than a series of discrete texts which can’t be read historically because no one has any literary history." Although I agree that "undergraduates arrive at American universities notoriously ignorant of their cultural heritage," I certainly cannot agree that this is because for these students "no other conception of literature, if it is to be studied as literature,... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2013 at thereadingexperience
A lot of people are rising into high dudgeon these days about the fact that most writers don't get paid for what they write. While this is partly related to the still-existing hysteria about the supposed nefarious effects of the internet (too many amateurs writing for fun), it nevertheless extends as well to fiction writers who seem to have just realized that, except for a few prominent novelists who have managed a degree of financial success, writers of "serious" fiction make little or no money at all from their writing. Various explanations are given for this situation, ranging from the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2013 at thereadingexperience
In 2008, Zadie Smith somewhat unexpectedly seemed to declare herself partial to the experimental impulse in fiction (as represented by Tom McCarthy), as opposed to "traditional" realism ("Two Paths for the Novel"). This was unexpected because, while some critics had mistakenly identified White Teeth, Smith's first novel, as somehow "postmodern," both it and Smith's two subsequent novels, The Autograph Man and On Beauty, were quite obviously themselves in the realist tradition, even recalling the very early stage of that tradition in 19th century novelists such as Dickens. Smith in her essay acknowledges her work's commitment to realism, affirming that it... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2013 at thereadingexperience
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 in the book evoke the relative desolation of this landscape where the prairie meets the mountains, reflecting the desolation in the lives of many of the characters. Although few of the stories rely heavily on plot in any melodramatic way, most of them do emphasize incident and event, related in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2013 at thereadingexperience
My review of Percival Everett's Percival Everett by Virgil Russell is now available at Full Stop. In Everett’s new book, Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, that authority, the authority of the very narrative we are reading (to the extent we can unravel the narrative) is itself questioned, quite deliberately, as Everett takes storytelling, and fiction as a mode of storytelling, for targets of mockery. This quality in Everett’s work, which also characterizes such previous novels as Glyph and Erasure, is most frequently described as metafictional and postmodern, but I think the impulse behind it still best regarded as satirical rather... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2013 at thereadingexperience
The books that brought A.M. Homes her initial notoriety (and her work did become rather notorious), the story collection The Safety of Objects (1990) and the novel The End of Alice (1996) are clearly designed to provoke, especially in their choice of subjects. The first story in The Safety of Objects, "Adults Alone," chronicles the increasing degradations of a married couple who take advantage of the temporary absence of their children to behave very badly indeed (including buying and smoking crack). In "Looking for Johnny," a young boy is kidnapped by a pedophile only to be released when he turns... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2013 at thereadingexperience
My review of George Saunders's Tenth of December is now available at Full Stop: However much these particular stories depict characters facing extreme situations, they are otherwise describable as works of narrative realism. Even Saunders’s more radically surrealist stories do not really depart from the requisites of conventional storytelling, and in this his fiction is consistent with (probably one of the inspirations for) most of the neo-surrealist fiction that has become quite a noticeable development in recent American writing. . . Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2013 at thereadingexperience
I In a recent post at his Sentences blog, Wyatt Mason examines a passage from Robert Chandler's translation of Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate and enthuses over its wonders. Although Mason acknowledges that it is a translation, and rightly notes that without it we who have no Russian would have... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2013 at European/Translated Fiction
This essay first appeared in The Quarterly Conversation In one way or another, the fiction of Orhan Pamuk is usually referred to as “postmodern.” A 2006 New York Times profile of Pamuk, for example describes his novels as including “a grab-bag of postmodern literary devices,” and its author, former Book... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2013 at European/Translated Fiction
I Alain Robbe-Grillet begins his essay "From Realism to Reality" (in For a New Novel) with what must be a truism: All writers believe they are realists. None ever calls himself abstract, illusionistic, chimerical, fantastic, falsitical. . .Realism is not a theory, defined without ambiguity, which would permit us to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2013 at European/Translated Fiction