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Discussion and in-class writing games, meant to encourage our tolerance for the simultaneous presence of disparate elements in stories and novels. Key notions will be juxtaposition, conflation, and digression; as well as divergent tones, purposes, ideas, and genres. We’ll try to consider the various levels at which such coexistences can be encouraged to appear, and how to manage and embrace them when they do – and why it’s worthwhile to do so. Please come to class having read “The Judgement” by Franz Kafka, “The Arms and Legs of the Lake” by Mary Gaitskill, and “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” by Denis Johnson. The latter two can be found in New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus.
Jonathan Lethem is the author of seven novels including Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, which was named Novel of the Year by Esquire and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Salon Book Award, as well as the Macallan Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger. He has also written two short story collections, a novella and a collection of essays. His writings have appeared in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, McSweeney’s and many other periodicals.