Sunday, August 13, 2017

Best of the Net

My story, "Ronald's Sister," has been nominated for Best of the Net by Cold Creek Review.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New fiction in the 4-10-17 issue of The New Yorker by Emma Cline

Emma Cline (author of The Girls, The New York Times Best Seller and named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post) has written a fine short story, "Northeast Regional," appearing in the April 10, 2017 edition of The New Yorker.

The piece grips the reader with the clipped first sentence, "Close to five hours on the train."

A remote father is called to his son's college where there is reported ''trouble." All moves along seamlessly, with tension, until the explosive dialogue near the end. I did not see it coming. Super!

The writing rolls along at a smooth pace, not a word out of order. The kid's bad doings are left off stage, we are sparred the torrid details.

The insolent kid is contrasted by his fragile, sniveling girl friend, bullied by the boy's father. A non-participating father for the most part, who is both weak and critical. Not to mention a pill-popper.

There is a one-paragraph sex scene that works.

No one in this piece is likable, yet sympathetic.

I don't want to spoil the plot, so I am intentionally leaving you wanting to read "Northeast Regional."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Latest Published Story

Cold Creek Review has published my story, "Ronald's Sister, in its first issue. You can read it here:

http://www.coldcreekreview.amberdtran.com/fiction/

Monday, March 27, 2017

4321 by Paul Auster

Has anyone read Paul Auster's 4321? I am struggling through it.

I'm a big fan of Auster's works, having read New York Trilogy, Hand to Mouth, Sunset Park, Oracle Night, The Book of Illusions, and Invisible. 

In 4321, (866  pages) there are four Archie Fergusons, all sharing the same paternal grandfather. Each Archie has his own story. Yet, they are the same boy in separate circumstances and plots.

The novel is heavy on the inner world of  Archie, written in narrative, short on dialogue. Manhattan and New Jersey provide backgrounds. Themes of identity, fate and ambition play throughout, along with gender, race, and class.

I found myself forgetting which Archie I was following. They are alike but in different, complicated and detailed circumstances. And that's what I found frustrating at times, trying to keep each Archie separate. But it kept me thinking, way into the night. And I'm still reading on.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Literary Fiction Book Club

Hello!

I'm back to my blogger page after a hiatus of almost two years. This time I'd like to concentrate on literary fiction, which I mentioned briefly in my previous post dated November 24, 2013. In fact, I'd like to turn my blog into a literary fiction book club.

When I think of literary fiction, I envision language that does not rely on convention, but on the process of discovery. Generally, literary work offers the reader a deeper look into the human experience through elements such as style, character development, metaphors, phrasing, and the use of sensory detail. In its broadest sense, literary fiction attempts to communicate concepts or feelings that transcend the basic structural elements of story. A primary difference between mainstream and literary fiction is that mainstream tends to have a stronger emphasis on plot rather than on character. That doesn't mean literary fiction lacks plot or narrative movement. Beautiful writing needs glue to hold it together.

Take Moby Dick, for example. More than an entertaining story about ships at sea, it explores layers upon layers of symbolic, psychological and metaphysical themes. Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and her other works run deep into the theater-of-the-mind. Often there is a moral dilemma played out through all the senses.

A literary story can be quite simple, but it will impact the reader with a feeling, maybe joy, maybe surprise, maybe anguish or loss. Still, something has to happen plot-wise to make these feelings palpable.

Hardly predictable, literary stories unfold the human drama in a probing, authentic voice. The focus is in the characters' psychology, and revelations on the human experience.

Besides the hundred stories listed on my new, updated website, it might be fun to discuss All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and discuss whether we consider this literary fiction, mainstream or a combination of both.  I have just started it.

Talk later!

Best Submission Rejection Ever

"Catherine, at this time, we don't handle projects with swearing in them."