April 6, 2011 § 1 Comment
One writer I know said a story begins on the day something different happened. Another said the story begins where the trouble particular to the point of view starts. Another said give away everything at the beginning, the way John Irving does. Another said start with the strongest possible bit of language or the strongest sentence. Another said start in the middle. Another said start with something mysterious and compelling. Another said start with some nonsense to make the promise you’ll keep. Another said start ambiguously. Another said start unambiguously. Another said start at the end. Another said start at the beginning. Every time the question gets asked, it raises a hundred new questions. Where did the trouble begin? If you believe, as some stories do, in a cause-and-effect chain, can’t it be traced back to the beginning of everything? What then? Isn’t this the argument they’re having in school board meetings in Kansas and Texas? And isn’t it true that by dint of deciding where you begin, you’re already giving the lie at the center of “nonfiction”? Because nothing is untouched by subjectivity, and no story doesn’t betray something about its maker?
April 19, 2010 § Leave a comment
Dzanc and Amazon are now accepting pre-orders for the upcoming Best of the Web 2010, a print anthology compiling the best fiction, poetry, and non-fiction that online literary journals have to offer in an eclectic collection in the manner of other broad-ranging anthologies such as Pushcart, and Best American Non-Required Reading. Contributors include Mary Biddinger, Robert Olen Butler, Dan Chaon, Kim Chinquee, Myfanwy Collins, Michael Czyzniejewski, Oliver de la Paz, Sean Lovelace, Rachel Yoder, and from Brevity: Kyle Minor and Amy Lee Scott.
“The book is heartily significant, featuring work that is sometimes surprising . . . and sometimes exhilarating—not unlike the Web itself.” —Los Angeles Times
“Such a development could not have come at a better time for online literary publishing.”
February 17, 2009 § 5 Comments
Kyle Minor discusses his Brevity 29 essay
“Suspended” is the latest installment of a failed book-length memoir that I hope will one day become a no-longer-failed book-length memoir. Two other pieces have been previously published: “You Shall Go Out with Joy and Be Led Forth with Peace,” in Random House’s Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers, and “This Is Not That,” in the online journal Waccamaw.
The still formless book is about a hard-to-articulate something at the core of my being, where worry attaches to such matters as religion, doubt, the problem of evil, a bully I knew in middle school, my abortive attempt to be a preacher (and, more generally, an evangelical Christian), the death of a friend from leukemia, an adult acquaintance with two pedophiles, a brief sojourn in the backrooms of American grassroots right-wing political power, a girl I loved who was also my best friend’s little sister, my high school principal who died of brain cancer waiting fruitlessly for his “wayward” wife to return to him, the taste and shape of the starfruit, the trace amounts of neurotoxin in the starfruit, the cutting down of a hundred Australian pines, and the story of my fifth grade teacher, a Cold War hero who escaped East Berlin by swimming a river with elderly relatives on her back so she could make her way to West Palm Beach, Florida, and ruin the lives of fifth grade boys.
The scary thing about these riches is that they tempt me. I want to gather them together into a single memoir, but already I’ve started to peel them off, fictionalize them, turn them into short stories and novellas, publish some of them that way. I worry that process will further distort my memories until I will no longer be able to write them as memories, and they will be available to me only as myth. I wrote “Suspended” out of this fear, and sent it to be published to give it permanence. After I forget, I want to be able to remember.
January 22, 2009 § 2 Comments
BREVITY, the journal of concise nonfiction, launches the 29th issue today, bringing you the Big Bad Wolf, a glass eyeball, Parisian lingerie, a pair of stolen sneakers, an orphaned doe, and, possibly, a visitor from another planet. Maybe it’s just the snow playing tricks on our eyes, but each of these pieces seems to ask the same thing: “Did I see what I think I saw?” Bundle up and get warm by the intense fire of such talents as Lance Larsen, David Bradley, Tim Elhajj, John Bresland, Diane Seuss, Joe Bonomo, Kyle Minor, Laura Sewell Matter, Elizabeth Westmark, and Bryan Fry. Also, new Craft Essays from Brenda Miller and Lisa Knopp, and Book Reviews from Mary Richert, Richard Gilbert, and Stephanie Susnjara.