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Out of Bounds: The Novel as Prose Poem

By Ariel Jastromb on Monday, April 4, 2011 - View Comments

While reading Karen Russell’s stellar hit, Swamplandia!, I did a double take.

I know the book is intended to be a novel and it certainly reads like one. It has a story: a beginning, a middle, an end; a protagonist, a climax, etc.  Despite these facts, Swamplandia! reads, to me,  like one big, epic poem.

Nowadays we rarely see long poems in the poetry world. What happened to those epics, like the Iliad, which frame western literary history as we know it? I think perhaps they’ve dissolved into a certain kind of novel —one that reads like poetry and presents as a novel. One of the reasons for this “re-formatting” may be the publishing industry’s preference for novels over shorter forms of writing, and all of poetry, in general. Writers know it’s certainly more lucrative to write 300 pages then to write 100, and to produce full-length novels rather than novellas. This preference is uniquely contemporary, and for that reason, I seem to stumble upon true poetry in the novels of certain modern and contemporary writers.

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More: Books, Poetry

Hey, Young Writers. Yes, You. John Irving Is Worried About You.

By JK Evanczuk on Monday, November 9, 2009 - Comments Off

The good news is that John Irving doesn’t believe that the book is dead. On the other hand, in a recent interview for “Big Think”, he says that if he were a 27-year-old novelist trying to get his first book published today, he’d be tempted to shoot himself.

I think my favorite response to this interview so far is from the Fiction Circus’ Miracle Jones, who says:

“As a 27-year-old writer trying to get his first novel published, I’d much rather kill John Irving.”

Instead of my typical point-by-point rebuttal, I thought this time I’d respond to Irving’s sentiments with a list of contemporary writers under 27  (or who have recently been 27) who have been doing just fine. Read more »

More: Writing