Books and Things

Just got my copy of Philadelphia Noir in the mail on Wednesday. That's the series of short fiction put out by Akashic Books--they focus on a particular city and ask writers in that area to write a noir piece about their neighborhood. I covered South Philly. Two other writers from one of the Philadelphia Stories classes were also asked to write stories--Halimah and Laura. I am so proud of us! I don't think my story is the greatest--the character is pretty unlikable and the situation isn't very plausible either, but it was fun to write.

Why don't you buy an advanced copy?

I'll also be starting another Master's program this fall at Penn and my first class is called Research for Fiction. Here's the course description:

Images and the figures of speech called imagery bring language to life and abstract ideas to light in the mind. They are what create the physical world of fiction and convey the subjective realities of poems and the arguments of essays. In this workshop we will explore the intersection between writing and the visual arts suggested by Simonides de Keos in the 5th century B.C.E. (Poetry is a speaking picture, painting a silent poetry) and echoed above in Horace's famous dictum. We will look at some of the theory behind the "sister arts" and the two forms of description which unite them: literal and figurative. Mostly we will examine and play with the language of images and the transfer of categories of meaning which metaphor and it's attendant likenesses govern, along with the image's great project: animation--the ultimate sense of the real. We will read poems, stories, portions of plays, and essays by writers as diverse as Seamus Heaney, Kate Chopin, Milan Kundeers, Annie Dillard, Yusef Komunyakka, Shakespeare, Susan Sontag, and Susan Minot. Students will write weekly and participate in weekly peer review. Revision is expected. This is a workshop that will teach writers of all genres to write persuasively and evocatively.

I'm not quite sure I fully understand the course description, but as long as it gets me writing more, that's fine. I suppose I should consider what topics I'd like to research. Also, what is Horace's famous dictum? Is it:"He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses." Or: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him cross it."

I've been reading more literary crime fiction lately (I'm being snotty about it--only reading books nominated for the Edgar Awards in mystery writing). I just finished Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters, and loved it and am now into In the Shadow of Gotham, but someone whose last name escapes me. Here first name is Stephanie. Both of those books are set in very particular time periods (London in the late 1800s, New York in the early 1900s), so maybe for my research fiction writing class, I should consider doing a(n) historical piece that takes place in Philadelphia. Except I kind of don't feel like writing something where I have to describe aprons and butter churns. Maybe a book set in current day Philadelphia and it could be a crime novel and I'd have to look up police procedure. Except I think in Philadelphia, the police procedure is basically, Don't get involved unless there's blood shed.

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