Carl Sagan on Books

François Boucher. Madame de Pompadour. 1756, oil on canvas, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

Literacy is one of the great tools of civilization. Etymology is one aspect of this tool. Your ability to read my writing—another. The moral imagination invoked is a third. Unfortunately, writing is a recent invention—we’re still getting used to it. As Sagan notes in The Demon-Haunted World (335):

For 99 percent of the tenure of humans on earth, nobody could read or write. The great invention had not yet been made. Except for firsthand experience, almost everything we knew was passed on by word of mouth. As in the children’s game “Telephone,” over tens and hundreds of generations, information would slowly be distorted and lost.

Continue reading “Carl Sagan on Books”

Perrine on Escape and Interpretation

The first question to ask about fiction is, Why bother to read it?

Rembrandt van Rijn. Scholar in His Study. 1634, oil on canvas, National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic.

Laurence Perrine, an English professor whose Sound and Sense textbook series was immensely popular, splits literature between escape, which helps us “pass the time agreeably,” and interpretive, “written to broaden and deepen and sharpen our awareness of life” (3). Escape and interpretation are not “two great bins, into… which we can toss any given story” but a scale with each inhabiting opposite ends (4).

Continue reading “Perrine on Escape and Interpretation”

Failed—Desmorious

Every writer has several projects initiated with gusto, abandoned with reluctance. My first was a forty-page novel in middle school—a Lord of the Rings knock-off called The War of the Bowl. In high school, my friend Jon Ying and I devised a western desperadoes-and-dragons webcomic called Dustbound. In college, I wrote rough drafts and buried them in the rough. Even now, as I revise my novel, I fear its future in a back-folder on Dropbox.

Continue reading “Failed—Desmorious”

Published—”Saamiya”

I’m proud to announce that “Saamiya” was published in Issue 4 of HeartWood Magazine. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that “Saamiya” is about a depressed Muslim girl who encounters the brave but fatal heroism of Piggy from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and finds common ground, perhaps inspiration. There are elements in this story I find important, including the guidance we receive from stories and the healing we receive from storytelling.

HeartWood is a digital magazine which publishes biannually in April and October. The editors prefer writing that “pushes into… its own truth” and “that takes emotional risks, that gets to the heart of the matter.” Because the magazine is run by the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College, its voice has a very strong Appalachian presence. Luckily, they found enough merit in my short story to include it as well.