Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

– Have a book review! I agree that the book is too short and the craft is lacking. The reason I think it is important and enduring is because, look at how few white people appear on the page in this book, and look what they do to this entire culture. That is what makes it art for me.

Behind on Books


Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I’ve struggled with this review. I’m torn. There’s the academic side of my brain saying ‘you know why this book is important’ and the fluffy part of my brain saying ‘yeah but the story wasn’t good enough.’

This book is on my reading list for the ‘Post Colonial Literatures’ module which starts next week, so it was a case of ‘read this or look like an idiot in class’.

What did I like?

  • Okwonko’s daughter – She could have held the story on her own. I was far more interested in her character than any other. The potential for a kick ass chick right there.
  • Setting – There’s no getting away from the environment. Achebe puts you right into the thick of it, unapologetic about using local terms and language, and at times it was alienating. But it worked to great effect.
  • Yams – Man alive. I want a yam.

What didn’t…

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Was Your English Lit Teacher Wrong About Symbolism?

– I am not a symbol-hunter myself, and I think talking about intentional symbolism, unless you are dealing with an allegory, is a waste of time. But I do agree with Asimov that’s its impossible to avoid unconscious symbolism, and I like what Ellison says about readers finding symbols being an indication that their mind is collaborating with the author’s work. I’ve said this before – there is a social element to writing that we do not talk about enough. “Composition” is a solitary activity, but it is only one component of what I think of as “writing.” Writing begins when you have an idea and doesn’t end until you have someone reading the finished piece. That is what I think.

101 Books

You always wondered if your college lit professor was just making crap up.

Turns out, maybe they were.

This article from The Paris Review offers a revealing take by many famous authors on how much symbolism played a part in their work.

Their comments were prompted by a letter from a 16-year-old Bruce McCallister in 1963. He was tired of the constant find-the-symbolism game in English class, so he took it upon himself to ask them what the big deal was with symbolism.

He mailed a simple four-question survey to more than 150 novelists. About half of them responded. The responses were varied, but most of the authors seemed to think symbolism is overanalyzed. Their comments were awesome:

The survey included the following questions:

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Surprise Post!

– I’ve decided to give this a go with The Writing Catalog. I’ll register in the next day or two as a Writing blog. The rules are already laid out, and they suggest short posts. I will use it to build something nice for the resources page I am planning. I’ll follow up soon with more info.


I’m just going to put this here, because you need to see it, and so does everyone else. The Monster will be participating in this event, and I hope others of you will join in.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

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Editing resources: Nathan Bransford

Taylor Grace

I’m deep inside the World of Editing. I’m reading, re-reading and hacking away at Amy’s Courage. It’s not easy. Like most writers, I hate editing. But it’s a necessity. It must be done.

What helps me is to break it down in to little pieces that are manageable and to believe I can do it. I’ve done it before. I can do it again. I don’t have to get it perfect right now, I just want progress.

It also helps if I have resources. And one of the best I’ve seen is Nathan Bransford. The guy is genius. He’s actually written a book on how to write a novel.

Here are some examples of Nathan’s amazing resources for editing: This is a revision check list to beat all checklists. If you can get through it, your novel will shine brighter than the sun. Awesome resource.

Do you have enough…

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My Writing Philosophy

I am a pluralist when it comes to writing. I regard all genres as equal, whether they are to my taste or not.

I truly believe that almost anyone can become a competent writer. What I mean by “competent” is that you can learn to communicate in text in such a way that you say what you mean and you will not be socially disadvantaged by the way you use the language.

All you have to to do is practice (a lot), and read good examples of what you want to write, and convince other people to teach you their tricks. I can’t help you write The Grapes of Wrath, or guarantee you a good grade, but I can promise you that if you talk with me about writing I will be sensitive and make an honest effort to help you.

I don’t care whether your goal is to produce a piece of serviceable genre fiction, or to get published in Nature, or to write more effective memos. If you ask me a question I will do my best to answer it. If it’s beyond me, I will tell you I don’t know and try to help you find someone who can answer it.

I am not a great writer, but I am a great editor, and I know what good writing looks like. I know how to go though a manuscript and eliminate all the unnecessary words while leaving the author’s voice intact. I am also a pretty good tutor (though real teaching is beyond me).

I am here for other writers. If you drop a comment on one of my threads, I will answer it.

A sensible woman: Jane Austen criticizes Romanticism…

– Confession: I do not know Austen well enough to comment over there, but this is an interesting post, and I check in for Artsunday at S&R every week.

Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

Marianne Dashwood, the epitome of sensibility, is the heroine Jane Austen most disapproves of…

The six complete Jane Austen novels divide into three interesting pairs. There are the “place” titles – Northanger Abbeyand Mansfield Park – both of which critique the heroine’s naivete. Emma and Persuasion – the “one word” titles – focus on, in the former case, the consequences of a young woman with too much self-confidence and, in the latter case, the consequences of an older woman’s youthful lack of self-confidence. Finally, there are the “characteristics” titles – Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice – that, via characters in each novel who exhibit behaviors related to the titular characteristics, allow the author to show, in the latter work, how the character weaknesses of the novels’ most important couple, once overcome, lead to marital bliss – and, in the former work, contrast sisters who represent both sense…

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