When is a prop not a prop? When it’s not doing anything to further the story. On the whole, we don’t want to clutter our stories with meaningless objects. Yes, there are red herrings and MacGuffins, and some use can be got out of them, especially in detective stories and thrillers, but literary fiction is not about coaxing the reader into dark corners or dead ends. Serious literature usually intends to shine a light on the mysterious, the obfuscated, the entangled, and the overlooked.
Nevermind that New York is technically not the capital city of America: like Zurich and Bern, the designation is often thought a formality; if Goldsmith is looking for a center, it is one of consumer culture, not sovereign government. Unlike its progenitor, the book contains no original writing — in keeping with Goldsmith’s usual practice — and provides none of the contextual framing that published versions of The Arcades Project offer. Like previous works, this is more mélange than bricolage, placing writings together without affecting change to their individual characteristics.
Yet if Goldsmith feigns to create what are, as he puts it, “boring,” purely conceptual works that hardly need be made at all, his account is not entirely convincing, and Capital challenges it further.
Recently, I found myself with a book contract and a deadline to produce 80,000 words, so I turned to some author friends for advice. Their answers were nearly always the same: Don’t do what I did.
These critically acclaimed, award-winning writers had produced their best-sellers via creative processes that most described as disorganized and nonlinear. Careful plans had crumbled as they had encountered unexpected turns in their research and thinking.
After reading “Wired to Create,” by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire, I’m inclined to think that these writers took the right path.
The structure of Olga Grushin’s original new novel, “Forty Rooms,” is ingeniously simple. Over several decades, we follow the Russian-born narrator — an aspiring poet turned American housewife — into the 40 rooms that represent the topography of a privileged, middle-class woman’s life.
Richard Nixon has managed to defy definitive categorization by his multiple biographers because his character resembles the proverbial elephant being examined by blind men and evidence can be found supporting any pre-existing bias.