Fourteen New Poems, Four New Stories For Spring

by Contrary Magazine March 17, 2015
Janet McNally

Janet McNally’s poems captivated us—viscerally—from the first lines, not just the imagery, but the sounds: “kick past coral,” “conch shells,” “plate glass.” As we read on, we entered a web of thematic strings that tie the poems together: flower petals, pomegranates, rubies, shades of red, myth, and fairy tale. These poems are so beautifully interwoven, […]

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Review: In The House Upon The Dirt…

by Frances Badgett July 21, 2013
Matt Bell In The House

In The House Upon The Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell Soho Press 2013 Matt Bell’s In The House lingers, even as you finish it and walk away. It collects and gathers like a storm, and explodes into wild proportions. It is a painful novel, full of effort and blood. The […]

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Philip Roth is most definitely NOT on Twitter

by David Alm December 28, 2012

If you, like many other people — including some seasoned reporters at the New York Times — were relieved to learn that you could keep reading new content from Philip Roth following the 79-year-old author’s retirement from novel writing through Twitter, I have some bad news. The real Philip Roth — yes, him — has […]

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Can we love fiction once we’re no longer seeking answers?

by David Alm December 26, 2012

I once asked my father, who had majored in English, gotten his master’s degree in English, and for years had dreams of being a full professor of English before he decided (wisely) to pursue a more stable career instead, why he no longer read novels. I was in college at the time, and just discovering […]

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Philip Roth retires from fiction

by David Alm November 11, 2012

Last year, Philip Roth said he was done reading fiction. Now he says he’s done writing it, too. Roth’s literary output could be compared to Woody Allen’s with film. Since he published his first collection of short stories, in 1959, he has written 27 novels and two books of non-fiction, as well as several essays. […]

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Philip Roth has a new biographer, and it’s not an alter-ego

by David Alm September 11, 2012

Philip Roth writes novels that he insists are not autobiographical despite the undeniable parallels between his life and those of his protagonists. Roth is now 79, and if his creation, the controversial Jewish “novelist” Nathan Zuckerman, were still “alive,” he would be about the same age. So would David Kapesh, another Roth alter-ego, albeit a […]

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Write Here

by Tasha Cotter January 28, 2012

When I moved back to Kentucky I gave up the city life, moving six hours away from Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood and my local Starbucks to a land of green pastures, black barns, and large homes nestled against picturesque rolling hills. Gone is my tiny apartment that was not unlike Sandra Cisneros’s own small cramped place […]

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The Portrait of a Lady, Revisited

by Oline Eaton September 20, 2011
Portrait of a Lady

It’s fascinating, the difference in reading a novel as an adult that you loved at fifteen. There’s both a deepening and defrauding. In search of an easy reread, I recently took up Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady during an eight-hour international flight. I was shocked by how the novel had changed in my […]

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Philip Roth is done with fiction

by David Alm June 28, 2011

“Either foreswear fucking others or the affair is over,” said Drenka Balich to her lover, Mickey Sabbath, at the start of Philip Roth’s 1995 book, Sabbath’s Theater. That book began a streak of award-winning novels for the author, earning him every major literary prize in the world of literary prizes. In the p ast 50 ye […]

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Forecast: A Contrary Summer

by Contrary Magazine June 28, 2011

The Summer Contrary is published and we have an early deadline for Autumn. The details: “Vaucluse” by Laura Elizabeth Woollett is one of the finest pieces of very short fiction we’ve ever received. Laura Elizabeth Woollett is an undergraduate student and writer from Melbourne, Australia. Set your sidereal drive on her now and watch her star […]

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Reality hungry or good hungry

by Cynthia Newberry Martin May 8, 2011

So, David Shields’ manifesto Reality Hunger. Structure: 618 short sections grouped into 26 chapters. Subject: our hunger for the real as opposed to the invented. Shields makes some strong points and shares some controversial ideas, most of which, in the real world, would require a cite. But Shields does not believe that reality–words, music–belongs to anyone. […]

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A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan wins Pulitzer

by Cynthia Newberry Martin April 18, 2011

The Pulitzer Prize in Fiction was awarded today to A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, “an inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed.” For more about A Visit From the Goon Squad on Contrary Blog: Dear LATimes, This […]

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The spring Contrary has sprung

by Contrary Magazine March 21, 2011
Blue Iris sprouting for spring

Now and then, Shaindel falls in love. Sometimes years will pass without an episode, but when it happens, it’s a blazing passion. When a new flame flares up, I’ve learned, it’s best for me to stop what I’ m doing and read. Last week in the midst of a downpour of sorrows—which she se nt […]

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New fiction from David Foster Wallace

by David Alm February 28, 2011

Well, no — it’s not new — but it’ s new to u s. Th is week’s New Yorker features a previously unreleased short story, titled “Backbone,” by David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008. The author of Infinite Jest allegedly struggled for years to surpass that achievement, which made him very, very famous […]

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Why know-it-alls make bad authors

by David Smith February 17, 2011

As I was doing research for a Contrary book review, I happened upon an interesting blog post by Norwegian author Stian M. Landgaard. Since the blog is in Norwegian, I hope the author won’t be too mad at me for producing a free translation. (Hey, I can at least do a better job than Google […]

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