Imagism’s stranglehold on writing

Does “show, don’t tell” lead to worse, rather than better, fiction?

I tell my students “Show and tell,” and yet even in 2019 I am disturbed by how often they come into my class, having taking fiction first, telling each other in workshop, “Show, don’t tell.” This is in the water of creative writing pedagogy, and we need to end it, because it leaks between genres and becomes a mantra, the easiest and therefore seemingly the most clear, most unquestionable.

Giller Shortlist Day

CBC will allow you to watch live, like the peasant-in-the-nosebleeds you are. Here’s the channel. 11am EST. Pulling here for Megan Coles to at least shortlist, if not win the whole damn thing for her scorcher of a book, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. That said, it’s a good longlist and I’d be happy to see longtime favs like Crummey, Alexis, Ohlin, or Price there, or even newish guy Williams, who is a fantastic writer.

Nobel wrap up

Given all the scandals and whatnot worming into every corner of society, I’ve been more interested in whether or not a 16-year-old Swedish girl (who is now being attacked by the Left as well as the Right, because that’s what we progressives do: eat our own) is going to win a Peace Prize than in the Literature prize. But old blogging pal Michael over at Complete Review gives a good rundown of what’s happened, what’s happening, and what to expect to happen. (Note: I love the Complete Review. If you’re not a regular reader, you should be. It’s more earnest and longer in form than this dump.)

What stories will survive climate change?

Lithub (again) has a lovely essay by Omar El Akkad on the effects of climate change on memory and story. Worth a read.

We must create new ways to think about what comes next, but also about what came before. As coastland drowns, as wildfires thin the ground and thicken the air, as changes that used to take centuries begin to take years, it will become increasingly difficult to anchor our memories to a geography, to a stable piece of land. So we must find other anchors—anchors that link memory to people, to relationships, to the solidarity and compassion and resistance that will serve as our only useful lifeboats in this storm.

PRHC is being cool

A couple last posts in honour of the bad-ass generation that’s currently out striking to save our planet. The Frankenstein’s Monster known as Penguin Random House Canada (soon to probably have a Simon, a Schuster, a Harper, and a Collins in there as well — it’s like the LGBTQ+ acronym… it gets longer every year), is being a good corporate citizen and donating 1500 copies of uber-hero Greta Thunberg’s book to schools across the country. The Nobel should go to this kid. And a high five to PRHC.

Megan Gail Coles in her own words

If you haven’t yet read MGC’s (known in this house as “Meg”) new book, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward’s Gun Club, you really should. I’m not going to lie to you that it’s an easy read. It’s uncompromising and stark and harrowing. That said, I think it should win mostly everything this year. Here’s the author at the CBC talking about how she did it.

“Some people talk about unconditional love as if means that you will continue to love someone regardless of their flaws and without any amount of examination. But I don’t think that does anybody justice. I think it is far more respectful of people that you love, of places that you love, that you know them for everything that they are. I love Newfoundland despite all of the bad bits. I know our best bits very well — that’s what formed me, what made me who I am. But I’m also aware of the things that it can improve upon and how sometimes ignoring or refusing to acknowledge those aspects of our character can endanger people in our communities.

On bookplates

Lithub looks at a brief history of bookplates. Loved these when I was a kid. Would have DIED to have a personalized one. Now, I think…. what would happen if my friends found their book in a used bookstore with my bookplate inside? It’s bad enough when you find a signed copy in a used shop. I think it would sting more to find one with a pretentious bookplate in there as well.

Every book lover knows that books borrowed often become books lost. Perhaps you loaned a book to an excitable guest, knowing full well that she will never again grace your doorstep? Have you, out of politeness, let a precious tome slip from your grasp? Or worse, done the same to others by inadvertently failing to return books that now live comfortably among your more legitimately acquired volumes?