Month: November 2017

TCR Talks with Ben Blatt

By: A.M. Larks

In his latest book, Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, Ben Blatt uses his data journalism skills to tackle writing’s lingering questions and examine adverb usage, gender pronoun tendencies, reading levels, and writers’ favorite and fallback words.

Although Blatt uses statistical analyses to show that writers generally follow their own writing advice, word counts grow in size after the first publication, and co-authors rarely get equal title space on book covers, his work isn’t a math book disguised as a creative writing book. Blatt uncovers interesting insights into style and writing tendencies by looking at rule breakers and followers, including best sellers, critically acclaimed works, and fan fiction, to give the reading public and would-be authors a comprehensive view of what writing looks like by the numbers.

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TCR Talks with Jean Hastings Ardell

BY: Nathania Seales Oh

In Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey, Jean Hastings Ardell co-authors the deeply moving memoir of Ila Jane Borders, a woman shattering gender stereotypes in a male-dominated profession while navigating her secrecy, shame, and eventual acceptance of her sexual orientation.

Throughout the book, Ardell points to transformative moments of struggle in Borders’ life: as a child at home and in the church, as a young woman on the baseball field and in male locker rooms, and at a Christian university where she played before being signed to play professionally. There are moments of levity alongside anecdotes of profound loss and rejection that show the reader Borders’ path to authenticity and success.

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TCR Talks with Gayle Brandeis

By: Angela M. giles

I am not sure when I first became aware of Gayle Brandeis and her work. It was a few years ago, and truthfully, it was the story of her mother’s suicide that drew me to her. There is a strange bond between survivors of suicide, a shared understanding of that particular kind of loss and the way in which our kind of grief is often messy. I read a few of her essays online and was hooked. I poured through whatever I could get my hands on by her, and her poetry is amazing, by the way. I knew she was writing a book about her mother’s suicide, and whereas saying I was looking forward to it sounds a bit morose, I was. So, when the opportunity to speak with her about writing the book was presented, I was thrilled. It turns out, Gayle is as brilliant and kind in person as you hope she is, and she has an amazing ability to distill grace from even the most painful moments.

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Book Review: Joe Hill’s “Strange Weather”

By: Xach Fromson

Joe Hill is no stranger to short fiction. His short story credits go back twenty years and includes the 2005 collection 20th Century Ghosts. After last year’s incendiary success with The Fireman, Hill returns to the form with Strange Weather, a collection of four short novels offering a panoramic view of humanity in scenarios that range from the fantastical to the all too real. Across all four stories, Hill excels at immersing readers in a full sensory experience that takes readers on unique journeys. The tightly written prose wastes no time in ratcheting up the tension, foregoing any trappings of the slow-build, existential horror in favor of rapid-fire pacing that never lets up.

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Bright Orange Candy

By: Anne McGouran

Kate is a Burmese-Indian octogenarian with scornful dark eyes in a heavily lined face. The top of her head just about reaches the height of my armpit.

“My husband dropped dead in his surgery at age thirty-two. To support my five little ones, I taught at a private girls’ school in Dharamsala. I adored the teaching but not the housework. Housework is just a bourgeois fetish.”

“Dharamsala…was that in the sixties?” I ask.

“Yes, during the first wave of Tibetan emigrations. Did you know I tutored the Dalai Lama’s niece? Not the brightest bulb, that one”—Kate stares off into the distance…  into the Outer Himalayas—“I was always the first person up in the morning. I’d pour warm milk and curd into a chati, cover it overnight with a blanket, then churn it for our breakfast. The nuns all adored my lassi. I still get letters from Sister Veronica. That slyboots used to slip Santra Goli candies into my mailbox when I was having a hard time with the spoiled rich students. Sister V. and I are the last ones standing. Soon enough we’ll leave our bodies so nature can work her magic. Our energies are continually recycled, you know. We pass from death to life over and over again. It’s nothing personal, really.”

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