Some of you may like my latest essay on the Good Letters channel at Patheos. It covers everything from Oliver Stone to a young Whittaker Chambers, with a slight dose of literary criticism mixed in. Here’s an excerpt:
I’ve been reading recently published short fiction—in journals, in anthologies. It seems that everyone took Baxter to heart. Perhaps I just got a bad batch, but it seems the order of the day is muddy ambivalence. How do I feel about my mother? My abortion? My boyfriend who is kind of there but kind of not? I don’t really know and I don’t know if I care.
Every protagonist seems medicated, every impulse dulled. I read one story that ended like that season of Dallas when they shot J.R.—this was all in my imagination. I read another that ended almost literally in mid-action.
I get it; I get it. Life is an accumulation of regrets. Your father probably will die before you set aside time to hash things out. Many of our deliberated actions arehalf-hearted or unsure or aborted. We stumble over ourselves and think we know things that later we don’t know and then we forget that we ever thought we knew them. Life is a big goddamned mess.
You can read the rest here.