Tag Archives: Joyce Carol Oates

Fiction Advocate of the Day: United Airlines

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Maybe you really want a mediocre crossword puzzle to pass the time. Or you need a map of your destination airport to find the best route to the Chili’s Too. But for the most part, the in-flight magazine hasn’t typically ranked a lot higher than the barf bag as something you ever want to remove from your seat-back pocket.

Well those were the old days — before Rhapsody.

Actually, those are still the current days if you’re not flying first class on United Airlines. But if you are, you will find what the New York Times calls a “lofty literary journal” that publishes “original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and [Anthony] Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.”

This is undoubtedly a cool, if weird, thing. Great writers are getting solid audience exposure and, presumably, actual paychecks from a major company. For United, Rhapsody “brings a patina of sophistication to its first-class service, along with other opulent touches like mood lighting, soft music and a branded scent,” according to the airline’s managing director of marketing and product development.

Also this: “Two of the magazine’s seven staff members hold graduate degrees in creative writing.” So it also means that at least two people with graduate degrees in creative writing have gotten actual jobs.

Read the full story “Rhapsody, a Lofty Literary Journal, Perused at 39,000 Feet”

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Master’s Bait

CT Writers Room

If you were debating whether or not to take that loan to get your Master’s degree in creative writing, the New York Times T Magazine has just the thing to send you running to the closest available co-signer.

In their most recent issue, T features famous writers in the spaces where they workWitness Colson Whitehead casually sipping from his mug among his brilliant clutter. Observe Mona Simpson, red-lining stories on a reclaimed wood kitchen table in what appears to be a Williams Sonoma catalog shoot. Ponder whether Joyce Carol Oates has more published books, or more pictures of her own face in her office.

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These are the idyllic lands of sagging shelves, sloped ceilings and soft light through the window. The kinds of rooms that most writers wish they were actually heading to when they go to whatever restaurant or cubicle where they spend their money-making time.  Whitehead says that even having a great room isn’t enough, and he moves his desk around wondering “Where’s the mojo these days? What room, what corner? How about by the window, one story above the street?” I did most of my best writing so far in a near-frozen storage space/extra bedroom facing a filthy Washington, DC alleyway — a view that didn’t matter because the sun was rarely up yet, and the dust-grimed blinds were always down. But I wrote some things there that I still find appealing.  

If you have a great place where you get your writing done, send it to us. We’ll put you on the internet.

– Michael Moats

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Books that Mattered in 2013: Extraordinary Books by Women

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The last 12 months were crammed with great and celebrated books. The Flamethrowers. Men We Reaped. The Goldfinch. Life After Life. Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The Interestings. Lean In. MaddAddam. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. Booker prize winner The Luminaries. Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal. Tampa. Night Film. Bough Down. The Lowland. Speedboat. The Woman Upstairs. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roose­velt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.  

If you’re not too busy trying to read them all, you might want to go see the adaptation of Catching Fire in the theater. While you’re out, you may also feel the urge to pick up some Alice Munro following her well-deserved Nobel Prize in Literature.

Then, if you get a chance, you might see if any of the books written by men in 2013 are worth reading.

As we suspected back in August, 2013 was the Year of Women. This year, offerings from Thomas Pynchon, Dave Eggers (both of whom, FYI, wrote books with female protagonists), and even the darling George Saunders we’re overshadowed by the excitement around The Luminaries, by 28-year-old Elanor Catton, or The Flamethrowers, the second novel from Rachel Kushner. Allie Brosh had ’em laughing, and dressing up in costume, at readings of Hyperbole and a Half around the country, and Joyce Carol Oates’ annual novel The Accursed was said by many to be one of her best, or at least one of her strangest. The trend was so strong that J.K. Rowling tried to release The Cuckoo’s Calling under a man’s name, only to be swiftly revealed as her true female self.

Strangely, no one seems to have much noticed The Year of Women, or wagered a guess as to why so much of the interesting and ambitious writing of the past year came from women. We welcome your ideas, but for now we’ll go ahead and take this as a good sign. The books above were never labeled or categorized as “great women’s books” — they’re just great books that people loved. It’s the best rebuke to all the Sad Literary Men and Great Male Narcissists since, well, Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., and has made for an extraordinary year of reading.

See other Books that Mattered in 2013.

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Alice Munro wins the Nobel

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The internet has been lighting up recently with things Jonathan Franzen hates. Well here’s something he will love, and we can only hope it gets to him on whatever mode of communication he finds least annoying, like a rotary phone or a handwritten letter:

Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

As of a few hours ago, Munro was second in the running according to London oddsmaker Ladbroke. She was a 4-1 favorite, behind Haruki Murakami, who had a 5-2 chance of winning — but didn’t.  Either  way, these two leading contenders demonstrate the value of basically writing the same kind of story over and over again.

Other possibilities were Joyce Carol Oates and Peter Nadas, both 8-1 odds, Thomas Pynchon at 12-1, and Bob Dylan, who was at 50-1 but is more likely to write a song in which the nominees and/or their character feature prominently than to actually win the prize.

Munro is said to have retired after the release of her last book Dear Life. But if she does pick up the pen again, we at Fiction Advocate look forward to reading more stories about a young woman who grew up poor in Canada, leaves home, gets married, explores her sensuality, commits adultery, gets divorced, and wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Read more about Munro here. And this is why we know Franzen will be happy.

– Michael Moats 

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Joyce Carol Oates Won’t Be Mean

EVEN TO SOMEONE who specifically requests to be Insulted by Authors.

Read all about it.

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