To MA or not to MA?

The MA in Creative Writing I’ve just completed my Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Why did I study an MA? I’m a secondary school English teacher. It occurred to me a few years ago that although I was teaching creative writing, I’d never studied it myself. I decided to fix that, and return to somethingContinue reading “To MA or not to MA?”

A short story I recently read

‘Bottles of Grief’ by Eva Shelton This story is one of the winners of The Insider Prize 2021. You can read it here (scroll down) in about 10 minutes. Thinking about story focus and characterisation… The narrator is attending a group grief counselling session. They (gender unknown) watch as the other attendees share their stories.Continue reading “A short story I recently read”

A short story I recently read

‘How to Talk to Your Mother’ by Lorrie Moore Read it here in about 20 minutes. Thinking about motifs… I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Having a short story/novel look back into the past, especially after a character has died, gets me every time. The opening line of this story tells us someone has died: ‘WithoutContinue reading “A short story I recently read”

A short story I recently read

The Man I Killed, by Tim O’Brien Read it here in 10 minutes. Thinking about structure and effects… O’Brien’s use of structure is amazing throughout the collection The Things they Carried; many of the stories spiral around events, revisiting them, reconsidering them, which I think reflects how memory works, especially in relation to trauma. TheContinue reading “A short story I recently read”

A short story I recently read

‘The Man on the Stairs’ by Miranda July Read it here in about 10 minutes. Thinking about time and characterisation… I love this story. In the opening, the narrator wakes to hear someone on the stairs outside her bedroom. We have this repetition and extension of things she can hear and feel, which demonstrates herContinue reading “A short story I recently read”

Book review

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell You can read an extract, here. I’ve just finished reading Cloud Atlas, and wanted to write a review about how amazing it is, but it’s difficult to do that while avoiding spoilers, and I really don’t want to ruin the reading experience of anyone who hasn’t read it yet, soContinue reading “Book review”

A short story I recently re-read

‘We Wave and Call’ by Jon McGregor Available here. Read it in 30 minutes. Thinking about how structure and themes interact… The story begins after the young man’s death, in the present tense (simple and continuous). For me, the opening creates a sense of detachment – it’s a combination of the use of present tense;Continue reading “A short story I recently re-read”

A short story I recently read

‘Help Me Follow My Sister to the Land of the Dead’, by Carmen Maria Machado Read it here in about 25 minutes. Thinking about form and structure…  I’ve fallen madly in love with Carmen Maria Machado’s writing ever since reading ‘The Husband Stitch’, which led me to read her debut short story collection, which ledContinue reading “A short story I recently read”

A short story I recently read

Ghost Days, by Ken Liu Read it here in about 75 minutes. Thinking about ideas and structure… I wouldn’t normally read sci-fi, but I’ve been broadening my horizons recently. In this short story, Liu combines aliens and computer programming with ideas about identity – these are common themes, from what I’ve read of his work,Continue reading “A short story I recently read”

Three novels with interesting structures

I love reading books and stories with interesting structures. Here are three good examples: Beloved, by Toni Morrison You can read the opening here. This beautiful and brutal novel captures some of the horrors of slavery, and its aftermath. Protagonist Sethe is haunted by the past – brought up a motherless slave, life on theContinue reading “Three novels with interesting structures”