Best of 2010, Part 5

This post features lists by four excellent writers: Chris Heavener, Lance Olsen, Bradley Sands, and William Walsh. And when you get a chance, check out part one, part two, part three, and part 4. of “Best of 2010.”

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A Sentence About a Sentence I Love: An Anthology, of Sorts

A few months ago, in April, to be exact, I started a series of posts entitled “A Sentence About a Sentence I Love” with a sentence about one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s magnificent sentences. This concentration, or, rather, this obsession with the sentence may have come from my, at the time, recent readings of William Gass’s essays wherein he concentrates much of his attention on the sentence as a primary building block in poetry and prose. Essays by Gass like “The Soul Inside the Sentence,” “The Sentence Seeks Its Form,” “The Architecture of the Sentence,” take as their focus the centrality of the sentence toward the construction of thought, and particularly of thoughts within the parameters of fiction. In “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction,” Gass claims that sentences are “the most elementary instances of what the author has constructed….a moving unity of fact and feeling.” Moreover, sentences

must be sounded, too; it has a rhythm, speed, a tone, a flow, a pattern, shape, length, pitch, conceptual direction. The sentence confers reality upon certain relations, but it also controls our estimation, apprehension, and response to them. Every sentence, in short, takes metaphysical dictation, and it is the sum of these dictations, involving the whole range of the work in which the sentences appear, which accounts for its philosophical quality, and the form of life in the thing that has been made (Fiction and the Figures of Life, 14).

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On an “alleged ‘story’,” that “wreaks of poetry”

A mini-discussion about poetry and fiction transpired at Annalemma.

Afton Carraway asserts that a story, “Illusions [N2],” featured in the latest edition of Annalemma, is, because its “[l]iterary devices, rythms [sic], cadence,” and its lack of plot, really a poem; and that “all it is missing is lines and stanzas and, in fact, all you have to do is reformat the page slightly and you’ve got lines and stanzas…LINES AND STANZAS, I tell you!”

Editor Chris Heavener responds:

The more I get involved with writing and the writing community, with other writers and other publications, both print and online, the more I become exposed to writers who are doing some exciting experimentation with language and form, straddling that line between poetry and fiction. J.A. Tyler is one of those writers. I feel “Illusions [n2]” is an dark piece that flat out rejects the traditional format of narrative voice and conventional storytelling. And that’s one of the styles that I’m into as a writer and an editor these days.

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Colors and Such

After Shya Scanlon’s reading tonight (which I thought was a tremendous success) I spoke with the recently debearded David Peak (and no, he’s not a mussel) and Chris Heavener (Have you picked up a copy of Annalemma’s gorgeous issue #5, yet?), and one of the things that David brought up was William Gass’s On Being Blue, Gass’s dazzling reverie on the color blue, the imagination, eros, and creativity. After gushing about that book I mentioned Theroux’s various sprawling essays on colors collected in two volumes: The Primary Colors: Three Essays and The Secondary Colors: Three Essays. (Theroux supposedly has an unpublished manuscript on black and white sitting in a drawer somewhere. Will somebody please publish it already?) I’d also mentioned Krzysztof Kieślowski’s amazing trilogy of films Blue, White, and Red. And David brought up William T. Vollman’s The Rainbow Stories.

So what are your thoughts about the abovementioned books and films? And what are some other works, e.g., poems, films, stories, books, songs, etc., that are sustained meditations on a specific color? There must be a slew of them.