February 8


In The Writer’s Chronicle: David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman

Shields and Cooperman wrote an essay on brief prose in the recent Writer’s Chronicle: I published a brief response over at The Fiction Writers Review, suggesting that there may be more going on than Shields realises. It’s a fiesty mini-essay. Take a look!

If you haven’t discovered David Shields yet, he’s definitely worth reading. For the last couple of years, he has been waging a polemic against traditional forms of literature, the novel in particular.

His argument, as put forward in his 2010 bestseller, Reality Hunger, and his recent Writers Chronicle essay, co-authored with Elizabeth Cooperman, “Life is Short: Art is Shorter,” is that the novel no longer captures reality, nor interests readers, and that new forms of literature are needed: shorter, ambiguously fictional, more openly self-referential.

Some of my reservations can be found in the FWR response piece; John Williams, in the New York Times, accurately captures some others in his review of Shields’s new book.

(The Writer’s Chronicle, published by AWP, is one of the major journals of record in the American creative writing industry—I read it for the essays and the classified ads (contests, calls for submission etc). This regular column will comment on some of the essays published in each issue. The essays are, sadly, readable online only by paid-up AWP members, so my commentaries will begin with an explanation of each essay’s main argument.)



David Shields, Elizabeth Cooperman, writers chronicle

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