August 2011

Await Your Reply 5: parceling out your life

by Cynthia Newberry Martin August 19, 2011

And you wipe the snow out of your hair and get back into your car and drive off toward an accumulation of the usual daily stuff–there is dinner to be made and laundry to be done and helping the kids with their homework and watching television on the couch with the dog resting her muzzle […]

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Await Your Reply 4: image

by Cynthia Newberry Martin August 18, 2011

From Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply, how an image can make words come alive: Without the image: Her thoughts were not clearly articulated in her mind, but she could feel them moving swiftly, gathering. “What are you thinking about?” George Orson said, and when he spoke, her thoughts scattered, broke up into fragments of memories. […]

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Await Your Reply 3: repetition with new detail

by Cynthia Newberry Martin August 17, 2011

In Await Your Reply, published in 2009, Dan Chaon uses repetition in a very cool way. Instead of bogging down the original scene, he pushes the action forward first, then a bit later, moves in for a close-up or two, adding additional details. For example, on page 246, Miles wakes up in bed with a […]

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Summer of Classics

by Peter Anderson August 16, 2011

For the past five years my summer reading has been devoted entirely to the classics. No current critical darlings, no edgy new novels from indie presses – just time-tested chestnuts that I should have studied in high school or college. My formal education only flirted at the edges of the humanities – required reading at […]

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Await Your Reply 2: nods

by Cynthia Newberry Martin August 16, 2011

In the surprisingly interesting Reader’s Guide at the back of Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply, Chaon writes: As a writer, I feel like I’m always in conversation with the books that I’ve read. Yiyun Li, the author of The Vagrants, feels the same way: “I believe a writer writes to talk to his/her masters and literary […]

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Await Your Reply 1: three threads

by Cynthia Newberry Martin August 15, 2011

From the first page of Dan Chaon’s novel: On the seat beside him, in between him and his father, Ryan’s severed h and is resting on a bed of ice in an eight-quart Styrofoam cooler. Enough said? Dan Chaon’s second novel and fourth book, Await Your Reply, which was published in 2009, intertwines 3 seemingly unrelated […]

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Holy troubadours! Stone Town’s Ramadhan street chants

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein August 10, 2011

August 1st was a kissless morning. My love, a Muslim, had decided to abstain from even the smallest smooch. It was the first day of Ramadhan. Twenty-nine more to go. I am a Jew living in Zanzibar, a predominately Muslim island. I accept that I have to figure out ways to get down with the […]

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Denied the right to vote

by Rebecca Lehmann August 9, 2011

When I last lived in Wisconsin in 2006, voting was easy. Wisconsin had a bevy of accommodations which made it easier, rather than more difficult, for people to vote, including same day voter registration, registration without photo-ID, and a ten-day residency requirement. My husband and I moved back to Wisconsin in the end of July […]

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Antioxidants and Great House

by Annie Murphy August 3, 2011

“Great Grapes: Score another point for resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red grapes and red wine. Basque researchers have shown that, in mice and men, it blocks lipid accumulation …” (48 Psychology Today 7-8/11). Is this literary ? Something about it struck me. I wondered why readers of Psychology Today would notice and/or find interesting […]

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