Jude, Still Obscure

The New York Times reports on a new study showing that high-achieving, working-class students are shunning elite schools (an unnamed list of “the 238 most selective colleges”) in favor of regional universities and community colleges. The study finds that many such students are unaware of these elite colleges, since they’re not likely to have met… More

The Pleasures of Philosophy

So, when I wrote on reading drama, I was perhaps too optimistic. When I said that drama is a break from prose fiction and that it can be read more quickly, I didn’t take into account that drama, like, I suppose, all genres, can get repetitive. I made the mistake of reading only one author,… More

The Joys of the Amateur

In his book The Cult of the Amateur, Andrew Keen gives a scathing indictment of the brave new world of the internet, arguing that user-created content is lowering the standard and preventing true talent from rising above the tide of garbage. His predictions are nothing if not apocalyptic: he pictures a world where newspapers go… More

The Pleasures of Drama

I wrote in my last post about the new PBS special Shakespeare Uncovered, and because I walk the walk in addition to blogging the blog, the show inspired me to open Henry V. And I have on my hard drive—taking up space that could otherwise be occupied with pictures of my cat—the collected works of… More

Shakespeare Uncovered: A Review

Today, in a rare mood to shake things up, I’ve decided to review something other than old books about writing, old books that only I care about. And, in a seemingly similar mood, PBS has decided to air something other than reruns of Doctor Who and is instead showing a series, Fridays at nine, about… More

Guide to the Guides: Spunk and Bite

The next few installments of Guide to the Guides will focus on style guides, and this post I’ll be discussing Spunk and Bite by Arthur Plotnik. I’m happy to report that this is one of the few books I’ve reviewed not meant for classroom use, which means there aren’t a thousand editions and doesn’t cost… More

Guide to the Guides: On Writing Well

Fear not, world: I have returned. I took a break from this blog because I was knee deep in MFA applications, but those are done. (And if any of you have any sway in any admissions committees, remember that the last name is spelled McCaul and that I’m awesome.) Sadly, I haven’t returned with any… More

Confessions (of an E-Book Reader)

I like to consider myself on the cutting edge of hating e-books; most people take pride in what they liked before it was popular, but I was one of the first to dislike something. I remember reading an article about the Kindle in a doctor’s office magazine (Time or something like that) before it even… More

On the Debates

Now that the presidential debates are over, I can finally check Facebook again. Well, not really, since no one ever really stops checking Facebook, but at least now I can stop rolling my eyes with every other status update. It’s not that they’re all bad—I never would have learned about the “binders full of women”… More

Bad Advice

I don’t know about the rest of you, but here in the Provinces, far away from the twin capitols of New York and Los Angeles, our newspapers don’t print any of those thinking columnists we hear rumors of (we’re lucky if the TV guide is accurate); instead, we get people like Dave Ramsey and Mary… More

It’s Application Time!

I realized today that I’ve forgotten to talk about myself on this blog; hell, sometimes I even forget to attach my little bio at the end of a post, which just further confuses things. I figured this would be the case when I first started blogging, but today I decided to talk not about Thomas… More

Return to Theme

In my last two posts, I’ve outlined some observations about changing attitudes toward literature and how those views came about. What I didn’t include, at least overtly, was my opinion on the matter. You might have picked up on my disapproval—especially since it rarely takes three posts to say, “I agree”—but it’s time to conclude… More

The Rise of Technique

In my last post, I made the observation that many writers today are ignoring works from older periods (basically anything from the early twentieth century and older) because we value technique over message. Many older works have technical flaws, sometimes major ones, whereas current authors may be more technically proficient, even if they lack the… More

Guide to the Guides: Writing Fiction

This is the final installment of Guide to the Guides; I’ve covered most of my own books that I thought most important, and I’m ready to write about different subjects. I hope someone has found this useful. But before I dwell too much on the end, I’d like to comment on Writing Fiction by Janet… More

Guide to the Guides

In this installment of Guide to the Guides, I’ll be giving some notes on Technique in Fiction by Robie Macauley and George Lanning. Just to be clear, I’m basing this on the hardcover of the second edition published in 1987; there was a paperback version of the second edition that came out in 1990, but… More

Guide to the Guides: Aspects of the Novel

I hope those of you trapped in the heat wave are finding a way to stay cool. Whether you’re at the beach or locked inside with AC blaring, what better way to pass the time than reading a book about fiction writing (or at least my opinion of one). Today, I’m looking at E.M. Forster’s… More