In This Issue: Number 61

The editors at Fiction thought it might be worthwhile for me to comment on stories that we published in the current issue so as to give readers of our Web page an incentive to find the magazine in bookstores or to subscribe. At the same moment a note came in from a writer whom I prize and whose work I teach, Cynthia Ozick, and she has given me permission to print it here. Since she has mentioned my story, “On Account of an Apple,” her comment will suffice.

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The Novel: Dead or Just Difficult? Part 2

Writing is thinking and, we hope, at its most precise.  When we crack open the Difficult, there’s a surge of feeling and emotion, understanding, that “I get it!” moment.  If we’re wanting to avoid the Difficult (notice I’ve started capitalizing it, what is that about?) novel or short story, then what are we feeling?  And, what are we thinking? 

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From "The Business of Writing" edited by Jennifer Lyons with a Forward by Oscar Hijuelos, published by Allworth Press, New York, 2012

by Mark Jay Mirsky

When I am asked by writers what I look for in submissions to Fiction, I generally look blank. This is because I try to read the stories that come across my desk without preconceptions. I don't have a formula in my head. I know one editor of a prominent literary journal who announced that he could always tell from the first sentence whether a story was worth reading or not. I can't echo that. I do, however, usually know by the bottom of the first page whether or not I want to go on reading. 

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The Jews of Pinsk: 1881-1941, by Azriel Shohet. Pinsk History Shakes Me Again

by Mark Jay Mirsky

In writing and thinking about the great figures in the world of fiction who have influenced me most, I am always drawn back to realize how engaged they are in the world of history, my second great love after literature. Donald Barthelme, without whose help and encouragement the magazine, Fiction, would never have begun, was passionate about politics and social issues, which permeate his fiction. Robert Musil's grasp of the balancing act of the Austrian Empire before the First World War is the background for his masterpiece, The Man Without Qualities.

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Fiction Remembers Dorothea Straus

Last summer, one of the staunchest admirers of Fiction, Dorothea Straus, passed away. Several years before that, sensing how fragile she was in the wake of her distinguished husband, the publisher Roger Straus's death, I went out to their historic mansion in Westchester to film her reading one of her stories. Roger had rebuilt the house after a fire. The grounds, which spread with the largesse of a great baronial estate, were the home of a family whose public contributions to the United States was writ large. 

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