Notes on John Fante’s “Ask the Dust”

John Fante’s “Ask the Dust” is a conservative and cynical, short poetic novel. It’s poetic because its episodic movement is tense and packed, its diction deliberate, satisfying Ezra Pound’s definition of poetry. It’s cynical because of its unrelenting brutality posing as reality. Must one always suppose that to live in seediness and squalor means to…

George V. Higgins’s On Writing

Unlike Stegner’s, Higgins’s On Writing is unexpected, full of convoluted sentences (the kind lawyers reputedly cast) and five dollar vocabulary. Higgins values readers, but they are a dime a dozen, and critics, penny each, and, as it turns out, editors are the true friends of Eddie Coyle. Higgins emphasizes repeatedly what he considers his most sage advice for writers:…

Into the valley of rejection rode the 850

Having read Dana Goodyear’s “The Moneyed Muse” (New Yorker, February 19 & 26, 2007), we were surprised to hear that the Willesden Herald received only 850 entries in this year’s annual short story contest, then again surprised at the outcome, for into the valley of rejection rode the 850. The follow up on the Willesden…