Tom scares the pants off me, he is an academic and analyses texts with a rapier. But he is also an extremely able writer, and so I valued his opinion on Short Circuit.
Nice! Exactly what I want - it's giving even a writer like Tom, who is currently studying for a PhD in American Literature, food for thought. Thanks Tom.
I have invited myself onto his blog for a stay in the new Year, to discuss Short Circuit in more depth. meanwhile, I'll put up with quotes like this from him:
I think it may become a definitive work.
I’ve read half a dozen or so of the essays so far, and skimmed through the rest, and there is good stuff here. I’m not usually very good with ‘how-to’ manuals, mainly because I won’t be told ‘how to’: the contrarian in me instinctively makes me do the opposite of what I’m told, even if I agree with the advice. That’s Calvinist atheists for you – we do a good line in nose-cutting.
Anyway, the advice here is good, in large measure because it isn’t dogmatic. At one point in her article, Lane Ashfeldt says: ‘I have no wish to waffle mystically about ‘inspiration’ here. A book on the craft of short story writing should provide more concrete advice than that.’ Agreed, and I think she goes on to provide that advice admirably, but what I like about this collection of essays in general is that what you don’t get is the usual collection of ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’ of writing craft advice, the sort of nonsense that tells you to write two pages of drivel show in order to avoid telling the reader that ‘Johnny was in a fearful temper because he had a bad case of piles.’ No, what we have here is measured, considered advice on a range of subjects.