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1. Jamie Parker Opens up on Playing Harry Potter in Cursed Child

Jamie Parker recently sat down with The Stage to give an extensive interview on his acting career, including his latest mega-headliner, The Boy Who Lived. Playing the most well known boy wizard is a pretty daunting task, but Parker remarked that he was “under no illusion the role of Harry Potter belongs” to him.

 

For many fans who are pretty weary of the latest addition to the Harry Potter franchise, the “8th story,” a Harry Potter play (a medium never used in the franchise before), Parker tries his best to put those qualms to rest. Acting is his career, his job, and he recounts this in his description of what it is like to work on Cursed Child.

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“We’re still working during the day and performing at night,” he tells me. “But our hours with the creative team are starting to lessen off as we get into a full performance schedule of eight shows a week. The company is feeling really good – Steven [Hoggett, the movement director] has prepped us properly to be in the right physical shape. Working with him, you’ve got to be in shape. And John [Tiffany, the director] has kept up our spirits with his relentless positivity and trust in his company.”

[…]

“I was familiar with the books and read some of them, but I wasn’t a Potterhead. But it’s been great now to immerse myself in it – I’ve gone through all of them several times now, and I’m going to go through them again. I won’t stop making notes, and every day I am finding out exactly how detailed Jack [Thorne, the playwright] and John’s work on it has been with Jo [JK Rowling]. In any decent play there’s an unspoken script going on underneath the actual script – like Woody Allen’s subtitles, whether they’re serious or funny – and that’s absolutely the case here. The play is perfectly clear to anyone who doesn’t know anything about Harry Potter – it’s just a very good play on that level. But for those who are immersed in it, there are Easter eggs hidden in every scene. There’s a lot that goes unspoken, and that’s fertile ground for being able to talk to each other onstage.”

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From the moment the show was announced, it has been the subject of intense media interest and speculation. How was he cast to follow in Daniel Radcliffe’s very significant footprints? Was it a long process? “Because of the nature of the beast, not that much,” he recalls. “They couldn’t spread the script around to cast the net especially wide, so they were quite particular about who they had on the list in the first place, though I never saw who else was on it. But they asked themselves before they got in touch with people if they really wanted to have that conversation.”

What about the responsibility, though, of playing such a beloved character and giving flesh and blood to him? “It’s not my responsibility solely. I know I’m only as good as the material I’ve got to work with. I’m not an alchemist, not when it comes to writing or production. You could argue that alchemy is part and parcel of what we do, but that responsibility is shared with the audience, and putting it on in the first place was Jack and John drawing from the wealth of Jo’s back catalogue and the layer upon layer of detail in there to create something that has its own emotional trajectory and its own legs. If I hadn’t thought that was apparent, even in that early draft, I wouldn’t have put myself in the position of taking on the amount of responsibility I do have – that would be a suicide mission.”

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Though we do not know for sure how many years after Potter the play finishes at, and Parker says he can’t reveal such information, we do know it begins right where Deathly Hallows left off, with Rose and Albus heading to Hogwarts “19 years later.” Parker continues,  “the relationship between Harry and his son Albus is a large part of the meal.

To read more on Jamie Parker’s extensive career, working with Noma Dumezweni and Paul Thornley again, and his opinions on the Hermione controversy, visit the original article here.

The published script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child hits shelves this weekend! The play also officially opens for previews on the West End.

 

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2. Friday Feature: If It Walks Like a Killer


A perfect family living a perfect lie...


IF IT WALKS LIKE A KILLER 
by Kiersten Modglin
Series: The Caroline Killer Files #1
Genres: Thriller | Crime | Suspense 
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Designs

SYNOPSIS :
What Caide and Rachael Abbott want you to believe…

They are happily married college sweethearts, parents to two beautiful children, and they lead a perfect, quiet little life.

What you should believe…

Nothing.

Nothing they tell you.

Nothing you hear.

In fact, nothing in the Abbotts’ picture-perfect world is what it seems.

But when their small town of La Rue, North Carolina is rocked by the brutal murder of a beloved member of the community, a manhunt begins, and neither Caide nor Rachael thought they would become prime suspects.

Every belief Caide and Rachael have about their lives is thrown out the window…

With mounting evidence and lives on the line, the Abbotts are forced to uncover what mysteries are hiding behind closed doors. When old wounds are torn open, secrets are revealed, and their sanity is put to the ultimate test, even memories can’t be trusted in their quest to find the truth. And when the community rallies for justice, suspicions of one another rise, leaving one question begging to be answered...

If it walks like a killer, will the small town of La Rue ever know who the real murderer is?

Watch the BOOK TRAILER!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kiersten Modglin lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and their two Boston Terriers, Cedric and Chloe. A psychology fanatic, lover of Netflix, coffee and all things Harry Potter, Kiersten can almost always be found curled up in her favorite writing chair with a good book. Kiersten writes psychological suspense novels that explore the darkest parts of human nature and the inner workings of twisted minds. Writing has always been an important part of Kiersten’s life; for her, this is just the beginning.


*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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3. Comment on Dolls of Hope by Kenisha Whitwell

Cada aviso que recibimos para reparar una Neveras Ignis es un reto para nosotros ya que sabemos que nuestro prestigio está en juego, y que respetamos al máximo a nuestros clientes ya que hemos llegado donde hemos llegado en este sector gracias a la confianza depositada por ustedes y la expansión de persona a persona de nuestro SERVICIO TÉCNICO DE REPARACIÓN DE Neveras Ignis como el más efectivo, profesional y económico de Madrid y comunidad autónoma.

http://petregorovid.wallarticles

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4. Comment on The Day Katie McAvity Turned Off Gravity by Frances Delgatto

Simply wanna state that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this.

http://www.RNXjAvnzt9.com/RNXjAvnzt9

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5. Comment on Pancakes With Papa by エルメス ドゴン スーパーコピー

また、ロレックス支持を高協と世界トップゴルフ大会機構の連絡、:サン・アンドリュースロイヤル古いゴルフクラブ(R&A)、アメリカPGA、女子プロゴルフ協会(LPGA)、アメリカゴルフ協会(USGA)、ヨーロッパツアー(Europeanツアー)、アメリカ名人戦(ザMaters)靑少年、アメリカゴルフ協会(AJGA)、PGAツアー(PGAツアー)を賛助中国ゴルフ協会と世界級のゴルフ大会組織と協力を含むエビアンマスターズ(Evianマスターズ)とエビアン靑少年マスターズ(ジュニアEvianマスターズ)。中国のゴルファーの訓练プロジェクトや靑少年の育成プロジェクトをロレックスの支持を得る。ロレックス_スーパーコピー時計サン・アンドリュースロイヤル古いゴルフクラブ(R&A)(美、カナダ、墨のほかにゴルフ競技の管理担当機関)に出版された『ゴルフルール』(RulesオブGolf)と言われるロブ運動の権威の典籍、本の中国語版の出版をロレックスまでの独占賛助。また、同項の戦略的協力のパートナー関係を深めると同じくきっと気ままなその後ロレックス国内トップゴルフ競技の関係を含む:例えば、ボルボオープン(Volvoチャイナの)、アジアアマチュア选手権(アジアンAmateur Championships)と世界選手権- HSBC选手権(WGC HSBC WorldGolf Championships)
[url=http://www.ooobag.com/watch/rolex/index.html]エルメス ドゴン スーパーコピー[/url]

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6. my little mixed media *experiment*...

so, last week i was doing some cleaning/organizing (i do that often-major OCD girl here) and i found tons of paper (which i LOVE) and all kind of little art goodies that i had laying around. i decided to stop looking at them (so perfectly organized) taking up space and actually USE them (there's a novel concept...) and now i seem to have gotten myself into a  full fledged mixed media painting.

originally intended to be an abstract...






mixed media fun...



background mix of papers and acrylic....







a tangerine haired mermaid decided she'd like
to be the featured attraction
of the *experiment*...


{'cause i can never just "experiment" (OCD+perfectionist=all or nothing). more pics to follow...in between other paintings, that is.}

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7. Comment on Faraway Father by スーパーコピーブランド キーケース

20位 Crystal Tourbillon $900,000 (1.08億円)シルヴェスター?スタローンも愛用する時計ブランド、Jacob & Co. (ジェイコブ)の時計だ。エントリーモデルは50万位からあるが、このハイエンドモデルは1億超の商品。時計というよりは宝飾品に近い。
スーパーコピーブランド キーケース http://www.buyma.cc/copy-63-b0.html

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8. I thought all publishing was behind me. Then this.


Last October, Danielle M. Smith, a friend and agent, picked up the phone and called me. My husband and I happened to be away, at a just-the-two-of-us retreat. It was raining. Outside, a river rose. I talked to Danielle for close to an hour.

About life, moose, cookies, hope. About what I was and was not writing. She asked the question. I said "not much." Finally, I confessed. There was this book, this very personal book, a book that I'd been writing. I wasn't sure I'd ever publish again. But the truth was, I couldn't stop myself from writing.

A few weeks later, I finished that book. I sent it to Danielle, a presumption. It isn't as if she'd asked for it. In fact, she actually had not. Danielle was busy building her new list with Red Fox Literary. She was selling story after story. I don't think she was in the market for another client. But there, with this book, I was.

She read right away. She had a hunch. A little while later, the book went to auction.

So, Danielle, this is for you. And this is for Caitlyn Dlouhy, editor extraordinaire, who said so much when we first talked that still resonates here, in my head and heart. And this is for the other really kind and smart editors who talked with me that week. Each of you a boon. Each unforgettable.

Sometimes, we give up on ourselves. Sometimes we're given (a gift) brand new chances.

I'm grateful for this one.

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9. रजनीकांत के जोक्स

  रजनीकांत के जोक्स पोकीमॉन गो और रजनीकांत -रजनीकांत की कबाली फिल्म रिलीज होने से पहले लीक हो गई तब सच मानिए मैं उचित शब्द खोजने लगी क्योकि लीक शब्द रजनीकांत के नाम के साथ सूट नही करता.उनके लिए  सुनामी टाईप  शब्द होना चाहिए.. पर शब्द नही मिला तो कार्टून भी नही बना. जब गूगल […]

The post रजनीकांत के जोक्स appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. TEXTILES - marimekko

And for our Friday eye candy, where we post fab patterns 'just because', we have these designs from the legendary Marimekko. We start with Aino Maija Metsola's 'Pieni Hattarakukka' print featuring 'cotton candy flowers'. This is followed by Pieni Karuselli (Merry Go Round) which was designed for Marimekko in 1973 by Katsuji Wakisaka.

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11. Organizing Your Edits

Here's one method to keep your novel's revisions on track.

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/tips-organize-your-novels-edits/

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12. HOME DECOR - bluebellgray

As it is the last day for Print & pattern before a little summer break I wanted to go out with something really bold and colourful. And what better than these stunning prints on cushions, fabrics, lampshades, rugs and more from bluebellgray. The company was founded in Scotland in 2009 by Fi Douglas a graduate of the prestigious Glasgow School of Art. Fi wanted to make designs with a painterly

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13. Parlez-vous party?

It's birthday week for my three girls.
It took them awhile to agree on a theme.
Paris + kitty cats + French pastries.

Kitty cat cafe ?
Ooh la la. 
And you know me - I love any chance to make art,
especially for a party.
After researching all manner of things French,
I sat down to sketch in the book fort.
(Avec iced coffee in a jar, no less.)
Oh, happy day, mes petits.
I think I'll make some hanging art
and some tiny, cupcake art.
I should probably figure out games. 
I'm no good at games. 

Anyone?

Hide the baguettes? 
Name the French cities? 
Guess the French words? 

Some French books we love:

This is Paris - Miroslav Sasek
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
The Story of Babar - Jean de Brunhoff 
The Fantastic Drawings of Danielle by Barbara McClintock
Madame Martine by Sarah S. Brannen
The Story of Diva and Flea by  Mo Willems & Toni DiTerlizzi
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, ill. by Terry Fan
 
 












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14. Comment on The Carver Chronicles: Don’t Feed the Geckos by Don Naftzger

Very interesting details you have remarked, thanks for posting . “Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.” by Baltasar Gracian.

http://www.kdemXQNWMR.com/kdemXQNWMR

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15. Rest in Peace, Richard Thompson.

This is a photo I snapped of Richard drawing in 2012 his studio.

A year or so after meeting him for the first time, I found myself in Richard Thompson’s studio watching and listening as he taught me how to draw his comic strip “Cul de Sac.” I sat next to him as he walked me through the shape of Alice Otterloop’s head, the shape of Petey’s nose and we talked pen nibs, inks, paper and what pie he likes. I felt honored that he would allow me to work on his strip with him. So much so I offered to bring coffee and doughnuts into his studio every morning, despite the 700 mile commute and the fact I’d probably eat all the doughnuts on the way there.

I got several opportunities to have dinner at Richard’s dining room table with him and his family. Whenever I get around to updating my resume, I’m going to add that. “I ate dinner with Richard Thompson and his family at their dining room table in their house. Boom.”



Anyway ... I will never forget sitting with Richard in his studio receiving the education of a lifetime. Watching the master draw and talk about his process was surreal. His artwork permeates my work. There are small pieces of Richard Thompson influence that I have left in my drawings as a tribute to him. It will always be imitation, but it’s my way of saying, “Thank you.”

Last night as I raised a toast to Richard, I looked around and realized his influence is everywhere in my studio. His books on my bookshelves. Richard gave me a handful of his pen nibs. I still ink with some of them, others (I will never use) have a special place in my stockpile of art supplies. Original Richard Thompson artwork hangs on my walls. There are still files on my computer of the “Cul de Sac” roughs Richard sent me to ink. 

I also have a folder on my computer of the photos I took during my visit to the Thompson compound. Photos of art hanging on the walls in the house. Photos of his Reuben Award. Photos of his studio. Photos of him drawing. And a couple photos of the backyard view out his bathroom window. When he asked why I took those I said, “Because I want to know what you’re looking at every time you take a piss.” He laughed. 


I will miss Richard Thompson. Hell, I already miss Richard Thompson. It seems an emptier planet without him here. And I want to say fuck Parkinson’s Disease. I hope someone finds a cure for it and for the icing on the cake, I hope that person is a cartoonist. 
 


Richard was loved. He had a circle of friends who would have jumped on a grenade to protect him. He knew his work was loved and he left behind a massive amount of work that will inspire people Richard will never get to meet. If you’re not aware of his work, look it up, buy his books, find a comfy place to read and be prepared to have your socks knocked off. 

Literally. Knocked right off. By Richard Thompson.

Artwork by Richard Thompson

One of the many links below is if you choose to donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in Richard’s name. Nothing can bring Richard Thompson back, but we can work to prevent this loss from ever happening to someone else. 



My family's condolences to Richard's wife, his children and his many, many friends and admirers. Big hugs to you all.

RIP Richard. 


Donate money to Team Cul de Sac on the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research site.

A link to Richard's books.
(Buy them wherever you feel comfortable buying books.)

The Art of Richard Thompson documentary.

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16. Giveaway! Copy of Jedi Academy: A New Class with endpapers filled with doodles.




I'll be giving away five copies of Jedi Academy: A New Class with endpapers filled with original drawings!

This is a contest where you will literally get bonus points for supporting your local bookshop. Please see the details below.

Contest is for ages 18 plus. Entries will be accepted through the end of the day on Monday, August 2nd.

Thanks so much and may the Force be with you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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17. Scholastic Celebrates ‘Cursed Child’ with a ‘Muggle Mob'; ‘Cursed Child’ Book Breaks Pre-Sale Records

With mere days until the release of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts 1 & 2 script book, fans around the world are celebrating in ways we haven’t seen since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

On July 21, hundreds of Potter fans descended on NYC’s SoHo neighborhood to put on a “Muggle Mob” in celebration of the release of the eighth book.

Scholastic shares more:

“More than 300 Harry Potter fans formed a massive flash mob or ‘Muggle Mob’ today, taking over Broadway in front of the Scholastic headquarters building in New York City, just 10 days before the highly anticipated release of the eighth Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two. The fans, all Scholastic employees and their children, flooded onto the street reading from a favorite Harry Potter book and stopping traffic in the busy SoHo area. At the culmination of the estimated two-and-a-half[-]minute event, the fans lowered their books and raised up paddles showing the cover of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, drawing cheers throughout the neighborhood. As the crowd dispersed, ‘Muggle Mob’ participants handed out their Harry Potter books from the Harry Potter series 1-7 to lucky passersby, sharing the gift of books and reading.”

Watch the video below for a recap of the event!

Cursed Child‘s already staggering sales have made the script book for the new play a bestseller, but according to Amazon and Barnes & Noble‘s reports, the book is also breaking pre-sale records.

According to Barnes & Noble:

“…the latest addition to the Wizarding World is the most pre-ordered book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007.”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts 1 & 2 will be released internationally on Sunday, July 31.

Thanks to our friends at Mugglenet for the heads-up!

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18. बेबसी


मुंबई की बारिश भी तुम्हारी तरह है,
तभी आती है जब भीग नही सकता,
पर आती रोज़ है ये पगली भिगाने,
और मैं पागला छुप भी नही सकता,

ललचाती है मुझे अदाओ से अपनी,
उस मोड़ पर, जहाँ मुड़ नही सकता,
ऐसा संगीत गुनगुनाती है वो अक्सर,
जो मेरे लफ़ज़ो में घुल नही सकता,

वो करती है अनेक भावनाए अंकुरित,
परन्तु दूजा लिबास चुन नही सकता,
बस निहारता रहता हूँ चंचलता को,
जानता हूँ मैं ख्वाब बुन नही सकता,

मुंबई की बारिश तुम्हारी तरह ही है,
निहारता हूँ हर्सू पर, रुक नही सकता,
बरसता यौवन देता है कुछ दर्द, पर,
एहसास के बिना घाव दुख नही सकता || Dr. DV ||

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19. Comment on More Than Enough by Google

Here are some hyperlinks to sites that we link to mainly because we believe they’re worth visiting.

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20. P.S. I Like You Blog Tour \\ Guest Post from Kasie West & Giveaway..

P.S. I LIKE YOU By Kasie West Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Point (July 26, 2016)  Language: English Age Range: 12 and up Grade Range: 7 and up What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery? While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has

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21.

As a result of the generous RNR article this morning (https://www.newsreview.com/…/cool-enough-for-school/content…), I've been asked already several times about the infamous "Rejection Notebooks" I've been keeping for almost 20 years. Originally, I kept them as a way to keep organized about to whom I'd already submitted, but soon after lugging them to a few school visits, I realized that they have incredible power to illustrate just how much persistence is required for authors who hope to be published. Or for that matter for anyone pursuing a dream. I'll soon hit 30 books in print, but there are at least 1,000 rejections here. And I stopped filing them a few years ago when I began exclusively submitting via email--so I probably have another notebook's-worth in digital form. I also stopped because there's no need to risk hernia, even for an author visit :)


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22. This year’s other elections

The primaries, the conventions, and the media have focused so much attention on the presidential candidates that it’s sometime easy to forget all the other federal elections being held this year, for 34 seats in the Senate and 435 in the House (plus five nonvoting delegates). The next president’s chances of success will depend largely on the congressional majorities this election will produce.

The post This year’s other elections appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. NYC’s Largest Animation Event is Back: Animation Block Party Starts Today

Get ready, New York City: Animation Block is back for its thirteenth edition!

The post NYC’s Largest Animation Event is Back: Animation Block Party Starts Today appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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24. Hufflepuff Parody Play ‘Puffs’ Set for Off-Broadway Run

While Harry Potter and the Cursed Child may be making magic across the pond, a decidedly different Potter-inspired play is stirring up success of its own in New York.

Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic is a fan-created, unofficial play written by Matt Cox that follows the true Hogwarts underdogs–Hufflepuffs–as they navigate seven years of mishaps and misadventure, all thanks to a certain troublemaking trio. The parody–which will soon wrap up a sold-out run at the Peoples Improv Theater–has recently announced that it will move on to an off-Broadway run this fall.

The show’s site summarizes the play’s premise:

Some people are born to do great things. Some people change the world. Some people rise from humble beginnings to beat back the forces of darkness in the face of insurmountable odds. Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic by Matt Cox is the story of the people who sit in class next to those people. And badgers.

Wayne Hopkins–a boy from New Mexico who is neither brave, smart, nor a snake–finds out he’s a wizard. Upon arrival at a certain school of magic and magic, he’s placed into the Puffs: a group of well meaning, loyal rejects. Over seven increasingly eventful years, he’ll try to learn magic; try to get out of the shadow of his world famous nemesis; and try not to get hurt in what is actually a very dangerous place for unsupervised children to be. Sometimes he will succeed. Partially.

Public previews for Puffs will begin at the Elektra Theatre on September 29. The show officially opens on October 20.

Read more at Entertainment Weekly and Mashable.

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25. Reality Affects


Bonnie Nadzam's recent essay at Literary Hub, "What Should Fiction Do?", is well worth reading, despite the title. (The only accurate answer to the question in the title [which may not be Nadzam's] is: "Lots of stuff, including what it hasn't done yet...") What resonates for me in the essay is Nadzam's attention to the ways reality effects intersect with questions of identity — indeed, with the ways that fictional texts produce ideas about identity and reality. I especially loved Nadzam's discussion of how she teaches writing with such ideas in mind.

Nadzam starts right off with a bang:
An artistic practice that perpetually reinforces my sense of self is not, in my mind, an artistic practice. I’m not talking about rejecting memoir or characters “based on me.” What I mean is I don’t have the stomach for art that purports to “hold up a mirror to nature,” or for what this implies, philosophically, about selfhood and the world in which we live.
This is a statement that avant-gardes have been making since at least the beginning of the 20th century — it is the anti-mimetic school of art, a school at which I have long been a happy pupil. Ronald Sukenick, whose purposes are somewhat different to Nadzam's, wrote in Narralogues that "fiction is a matter of argument rather than of dramatic representation" and "it is the mutability of consciousness through time rather than representation that is the essential element of fiction." Sukenick proposes that all fiction, whether opaquely innovative or blockbuster entertainment, "raises issues, examines situations, meditates solutions, reflects on outcomes" and so is a sort of reasoning and reflection. "The question," he writes, "is only whether a story reflects thoughtfully, or robotically reflects the status quo with no illuminating angle of vision of its own."

Magritte, "The Human Condition", 1933

Sukenick, too, disparages the "mirror to reality" or "mirror to nature" idea: "Once the 'mirror of reality' argument for fiction crumbles, possibilities long submerged in our tradition open up, and in fact a new rationale for fiction becomes necessary."

Nadzam's essay provides some possibilities for remembering what has been submerged in the tradition of fiction and for creating new rationales for fiction's necessity:
I want fiction to bend, for its structure not to mirror the reality I think I see, but for its form and structure to help me peel back and question the way reality seems. The way I seem. I love working with the English language precisely because it fails. Even the most perfect word or phrase or narrative can at best shadow and haunt the phenomena of the world. Words and stories offer a way of experiencing being that is in their most perfect articulation a beat removed from direct experience. And so have I long mistrusted those works in which representation and words function without a hiccup, creating a story that is meant to be utterly believed.
Again, not at all new, but necessary because these ideas so push against dominant assumptions about fiction (and reality) today.

An example of one strain of dominant assumptions: Some readers struggle to separate characters from writers. On Twitter recently, my friend Andrew Mitchell, a writer and editor, expressed frustration with this tendency, saying: "EVERYTHING a character says/does in a story reflects EXACTLY what the writer believes, right? Based on the comments I just read: YES!" As I said to Andrew in reply, this way of thinking results from certain popular types of literary analysis and pedagogy, ones that seek Message from art, ones that want literature to be a paragon of Self Expression, with the Self either a fragile, wounded bird or an allegorical representative of All Such Selfs. It's "write what you know" taken to its logical conclusion: write only what you know about what and who you are. (Good luck writing a story about a serial killer if you're not one.) Such assumptions are anti-imagination and, ultimately, anti-art.

These dominant assumptions aren't limited to classrooms and naive readers. Consider this, from Achy Obejas's foreword to The Art of Friction (ed. Charles Blackstone & Jill Talbot):
When my first book, We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like  This?, was released in 1994, my publishers were ecstatic at the starred review it received in Publishers Weekly.

But though I appreciated the applause, I was a bit dismayed.  The review referred to the seven pieces that comprise the book as “autobiographical essays.” I found this particularly alarming, since six of the seven stories were first-person narrations, mostly Puerto Rican and Mexican voices, while I am Cuban, and one was from the point of view of a white gay man named Tommy who is dying of AIDS.

I’d have thought that the reviewer might have noticed that nationality, race, and gender seemed to shift from story to story—and that is what they were, stories, not essays; fiction, not memoir—but perhaps that reviewer, like many others who followed, felt more comforted in believing that the stories were not products of the imagination but lived experiences.
Imagination is incomprehensible and terrifying. In the classroom, I see this all the time when students read anything even slightly weird — at least one will insist the writer must have been on drugs. When a person reads a work of fiction and their first impulse is to either seek out the autobiographical elements or declare the writer to be a drug addict, then we know that that reader has no experience with or understanding of imagination. For such readers, based on a true story are the five most comforting words to read.

I come back again and again to a brief passage from one of my favorites of Gayatri Spivak's books, Readings:
I am insisting that all teachers, including literary criticism teachers, are activists of the imagination. It is not a question of just producing correct descriptions, which should of course be produced, but which can always be disproved; otherwise nobody can write dissertations. There must be, at the same time, the sense of how to train the imagination, so that it can become something other than Narcissus waiting to see his own powerful image in the eyes of the other. (54)
There must be the sense of how to train the imagination so that it can become something other than Narcissus waiting to see his own powerful image in the eyes of the other.

To return to Bonnie Nadzam's essay: Another dominant force that keeps fiction from becoming too interesting, keeps readers from reading carefully, and prevents the education of literary imagination is mass media (which these days basically means visual/cinematic media). I love mass media and visual media for all sorts of reasons, but if we ignore pernicious effects then we can't adjust for them. Nadzam writes:
...I’ve noticed that with much contemporary fiction, when we read, we’re often not asked to imagine we’re reading a history, biography, diary or anything at all. Often the text doesn’t even ask the reader to be aware of the text as text. With much fiction, we seem to pretend we are watching a movie. And it is supposed to be a good thing if a novel is “cinematic.”
Much fiction today, especially fiction that achieves any level of popularity, seems to me to draw not just structurally but emotionally from television. At its best, it's The Wire (perhaps the great melodrama of our era -- and I mean that as high praise); more commonly, it's a Lifetime movie-of-the-week. TV, like pop songs, knows the emotional moves it needs to pull off to make its audience feel what the audience desires to feel -- make your audience feel something they don't desire to feel, and most of them will turn on you with hate and scorn.

The giveaway, I think, is the narrowness of the prose aesthetic in all fiction that pulls its effects from common wells of emotion, because a complex, unfamiliar prose structure will get in the way of readers drinking up the emotions they desire. Such writing may not itself be inherently rich with emotion; all it needs to do is transmit signs that signal feelings already within the reader's repertoire. Keep the prose structure and style familiar, keep the emotions within the expected range, and the writer only needs to point toward those emotions for the reader to feel them. The reader becomes Pavlov's dog, salivating not over real food, but over the expectation of it. If an identity group exists, then that identity group can train its members toward particular structures of feeling. If the structures are even minimally in place, then members in good standing of an identity group will receive the emotional payoff they desire. Fiction then becomes a confirmation of identity and emotion, not a challenge to it.

(Tangentially: The radical potential of melodrama is to trick audiences into feeling emotions they would not otherwise feel and to complicate expected emotions. This was, for instance, the great achievement of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book that is terribly written in all sorts of ways, but which mobilized -- even weaponized -- sentiment to an extraordinary degree. The same could be said for The Wire, though with significantly less social effect [Linda Williams has some thoughts on this, if I'm remembering her book correctly].)

Anyone who's taught creative writing will tell you that lots of students don't aspire to write for the sake of writing so much as they aspire to write movies on paper. Which is fine, in and of itself, but if students want to write movies, they should take screenwriting and film production courses. And if I want to watch a movie, I'll watch a movie, not read a book.

Movies, TV, and video games are the dominant narrative forms of our time, so it should be no surprise that fiction often resembles those dominant forms. Even the most blockbustery of bestselling novels can't compete for dominance (and almost every bestselling novel these days is a movie-in-a-book, anyway, so they're just contributing to the dominance). Look how excited people get when they find out their favorite book will be turned into a movie. It's like Pinocchio being turned into a real boy!

What gets lost is the literary. Not in some high-falutin' sense of the Great Books, but in the technical sense of what written texts can do that other media either can't or don't do as well. Conversely, other media have things they do that written texts don't do as well, or at all — this is what bugs me when people write about films as if they're novels, for instance, because it loses all sense of what is distinctly cinematic. But that's a topic for another time...

Nadzam discusses how she teaches fiction, and I hope at some point she writes a longer essay about this:
When I do “teach” creative writing, I point out that a work of formal realism (which I neither condemn nor condone) usually adheres to a particular formula: Exposition informs a person’s Psychology, from which arises their Character, out of which certain Motives emerge, based upon which the character takes Action, from which Plot results (EPiC MAP). And what formal realism achieved thereby was answering some of the metaphysical questions raised by Enlightenment thinkers about what the self, or character, might be—a person is a noun. A changing noun, perhaps, but a noun nonetheless—somehow separate from the flux of the world they inhabit. The students I’ve had who want to “be writers” hear about EPiC MAP and diligently set to work. The artists in the class, however—the kindred spirits with the mortal wound—they look at me skeptically. Something about that doesn’t feel right, they say. I don’t want to do it that way, they say. Can we break those rules? And each of their “stories” is a terrible, fascinating mess. Are the stories messes because these writers are breaking with habit, forcing readers to break with expectation, or is the EPiC MAP really an effective mirror? I grant that this is an impossible question to answer, but an essential question to raise. By my lights these students are trying, literally, to re-make the world.
This reminded me of Mac Wellman's longstanding practice of encouraging his playwrighting students to write "bad" plays. The New York Times describes this amusingly:
He asks students to write bad plays, to write plays with their nondominant hands, to write a play that takes five hours to perform and covers a period of seven years. Ms. Satter recalled an exercise in which she had to write a play in a language she barely knew.

“I wrote mine in extremely limited Russian,” she wrote in an email. “Then we translated them back into English and read them aloud. The results were these oddly clarified, quiveringly bizarre mini-gems.”

Mr. Wellman explained: “I’m not trying to teach them how to write a play. I’m trying to teach them to think about what kind of play they want to write.”
Further, from a 1992 interview:
Inevitably, if you start mismatching pronouns, getting your tenses wrong, writing sentences that are too long or too short, you will begin to say things that suggest a subversive political reality.
One of the most effective exercises I do with students (of all levels) is to have them make a list of "writing rules" — the things they have been told or believe to be key to "good writing". I present this to them seriously. I want them to write down what they really believe, which is often what teachers past have taught them. Then, for the next assignment, I tell them to write something in which they break all those rules. Every single one. Some students are thrilled (breaking rules is fun!), some are terrified (we're not supposed to break rules!), but again and again it leads to some fascinating insights for them. It can be liberating, because they discover the freedom of choice in writing, and do things with words that they would never have given themselves permission to do on their own. It's also educative, because they discover that some of the rules, at least for some situations, make sense to them. Then, though, they don't apply those rules ignorantly and unreflectively: when they follow those rules in the future, they do so because the rules make sense to them.

(I make them read Gertrude Stein, too. I make them try to write like Gertrude Stein, especially at her most abstract. [Tender Buttons works well.] It's harder than it looks. They scoff at Stein at first, but once they try to imitate her, they struggle, usually, and discover how wedded their minds are to a particular way of writing and particular assumptions about sense and purpose.)

(I show them Carole Maso's book Break Every Rule. I tell them it's a good motto for a writer.)

To learn new ways to write, to educate our imaginations, we need not only to think about new possibilities but to look at old models, especially the strange and somewhat forgotten ones. Writers who only read what is near at hand are starving themselves, starving their imaginations.

Nadzam returns to 18th century writers, a trove of possibilities:
Fielding thought a crucial and often overlooked aspect of the theatrum mundi metaphor was the emphasis the metaphor puts on the role of the audience, and the audience’s tendency to hastily judge the character of his fellow men. We are not supposed to assume, Fielding’s narrator tells us in Tom Jones, that just because the brilliant 18th-century actor David Garrick plays the fool, Garrick himself is a fool. Nor should we assume that the fool we meet in life is actually—or always—a fool. How then is Fielding’s audience to determine the character of Fielding’s contemporary who plays the part of an actor playing the part of a ghost puppet who represents a real-life individual whose eccentric and condemnable behavior Fielding satirizes? For Fielding, there is no such thing as an un-interpreted experience; an instance of mimetic simulation cannot be considered “truth” (a clear image in a well-polished mirror) because truth itself is the very act of mimetic simulation.
Seeking out writers from before fiction's conventions were conventional helps us see new possibilities. (This is one of the values of Steven Moore's two-volume "alternative history" of the novel, which upends so many received ideas about what novels are and aren't, and when they were what they are or aren't. Also Margaret Anne Doody's The True Story of the Novel. Also so much else.)

Finally, one of the central concerns of Nadzam's essay is the way that assumptions about fiction reproduce and reify assumptions about identity:
...what is now generally accepted as “fiction” emerged out of an essentialism that is oddly consoling in its reduction of each individual to a particular set of characteristics, and the reality they inhabit a background distinct from this self. At worst, behind this form are assumptions about identity and reality that may prevent us from really knowing or loving ourselves or each other, and certainly shield us from mystery.
So much fiction seems to see people as little more than roleplaying game character sheets written in stone. Great mysteries of motivation, great changes in conviction or belief, all these too often get relegated to the realms of the "unrealistic" — and yet the true realism is the one that knows our movement from one day to the next is mostly luck and magic.

Relevant here also is a marvelous essay by Stephen Burt for Los Angeles Review of Books, partly a review of poetry by Andrew Maxwell and Kay Ryan, partly a meditation on how lyric poetry works. More fiction writers ought to learn from poetry. (More fiction reviewers ought to learn from the specificity and attention to language and form in Burt's essay, and in many essays on poetry.) Consider:
A clever resistance to semantic function, an insistence that we just don’t know, that words can turn opaque, pops up every few lines and yet never takes over a reader’s experience: that’s what you get when you try to merge aphorism (general truth) and lyric (personal truth) and Maxwell’s particular line of the North American and European avant-garde (what is truth?). It haunts, it teases, it invites me to return. By the end of the first chapbook, “Quotation or Paternity,” Maxwell has asked whether lyric identification is also escapism: “Trying to identify, it means / Trying to be mistaken / About something else.” Poetic language is, perhaps, the record of a mistake: in somebody else’s terms, we misrecognize ourselves.
And:
We can never be certain how much of our experience resembles other people’s, just as we can’t know if they see our “blue”.... Nor can we know how much of what we believe will fall apart on us next year. ... His poems understand how tough understanding yourself, or understanding anyone else, or predicting their behavior, or putting reflection into words can be, and then forgive us for doing it anyway...
We need more fiction like Stephen Burt's description of Andrew Maxwell's poems: More fiction that understands how tough understanding yourself, or understanding anyone else, or predicting their behavior, or putting reflection into words can be, and then forgives us for doing it anyway.

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