So glad yesterday is behind us. We’ve been on overkill (forgive the awful pun) for a while here in Dallas. The local television news began their commemorations of the JFK assassination last November, ramping up over the past few weeks from monthly features to daily ones. It’s probably impossible to communicate to outsiders the status of this date in the local mindset.
For various reasons I was reminded this week that I said exactly that or something close to that or something related to that during a class discussion at the MFA Program. It’s a good thing there is no record of those Warren Wilson classes.
In fact, what I said was likely closer to the idea that most prologues were a really bad idea. The subject of the class was narrative engines, and I argued against the kind of narrative that offers you a brief moment of heightened narrative energy only to have you turn the page and discover chapter one, which circles back to the build up to what you have just read. What you have just read shows up again somewhere around Chapter Four. Chapters One, Two and Three contain all the stuff the novelist believes (falsely) that you need to know before you get to Chapter Four. Which (if he/she would just give up all that wonderfully written but unnecessary exposition) should be the actual opening of the book.
Can’t credit the photographer without issuing a spoiler alert.
WHAT KEISHA DID
That Janet Williams hadn’t liked children all that much she blamed on the boy’s mother. Children annoyed her, frankly—all that incessant energy, the enthusiasm for obnoxious music and inedible food, their general and relentless neediness. When pressed, however, she would admit there was something special about this one, this Danny, her five-year-old grandson. On that day—that god-awful day—he’d mostly amused himself, trying out all of the chairs in the living room, plopping himself on the new loveseat and scootching his little bottom around, testing it for comfort, twisting his face around like a bad actor portraying a food critic. Goldilocks with nappy hair.
Just published my story “Blind Alley.” This is the first published section of one of two current projects. Martha’s Daughter (working title) is a linked collection of a novella and stories. I’m working hard to complete the draft by next spring.
Surely I am not the only person who rolls his eyes when Ira Glass gently cautions his listeners that the story they are about to hear acknowledges the existence of sex. Don’t get me wrong: I have been addicted to This American Life since it first started airing on Minnesota Public Radio. No other broadcast program so regularly rewards my craving for engaging narrative. Still, I find something…disingenuous and coy about Ira’s warning to the easily offended. And I doubt anyone at his production company is the least bit surprised by that response. When he reads this disclaimer, Ira’s tongue is stuck so far in his cheek that it looks like he’s hoarding nuts for the winter. Neither he nor his staff finds the content of these stories the least bit controversial. Alas, in the public sphere, one plays along nicely in order to keep the puritans at bay.
Author David Haynes comes full circle with ‘A Star in the Face of the Sky’
There have been a number of family murders in Texas, and David Haynes always wondered about the killers’ motives.
“There was never an answer, and that sparked my imagination. I realized the larger question is: What about the people left behind?” Haynes said in an interview from his office at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
That’s the issue this former Minnesotan explores in “A Star in the Face of the Sky,” his seventh novel and his first since “The Full Matilda” was published in 2004.
Haynes, a former middle-grade teacher at St. Paul schools, has come full circle with this book.