Benjamin Mautner Princeton – McSweeney’s 46 Showcases Latin American Crime Writing

For fiction readers in the US, Latin American fiction normally boils down to a few high-profile names like Borges, García Márquez, or Bolaño. In terms of subject matter, stories about struggle against dictatorial regimes shot through a dose of magical-realism is what a popular reader has come to expect. But as Daniel Galera, guest editor of McSweeney’s 46, puts it, “it’s not so simple anymore.” This month,McSweeney’s Quarterly, one of country’s most popular outlets for literary fiction, has chosen to devote their entire issue to the Latin American crime story.Benjamin Mautner Princeton

As an article in the Los Angeles Times points out, there is a logic to the decision. Crime writing has a way of straddling the line between “genre and literary.” The best crime writing uses the concept of crime as a gateway to tackle larger social and literary questions without necessarily resorting the ‘whodunit’ formula. And it appears as though formula was not the order of the day with this collection, with stories ranging from the relatively straight-forward “The Dirty Kid” by Argentine writer Mariana Enríquez, to Brazilian Bernardo Carvalho’s look into the mind a strange government official in his 11 page paragraph, “Jealousy.”

The latest issue of McSweeney’s contains 13 pieces from all over Latin-America, showcasing great diversity as well as some unexpected similarities, which Galara ascribes to the “anxiety of influence.” The collection works both as an introduction to writers that may not be that well-known in the states, as well as a celebration of a not often observed genre of Latin-American writing.

For more indepth discussion of the McSweeney’s 46, check out this article at the Los Angeles Times.  For interviews with authors represented in McSweeney’s Latin-American Crime issue visit here.


Benjamin Mautner Princeton-Serialized Fiction

With the use of technology, serialized fiction has made a huge comeback recently as discussed in this article. Writers such as Dickens, Dumas, and Henry James used to participate in such a form of releasing stories. Now, writers have the ability to post episodes of stories on an app called Wattpad.Benjamin Mautner Princeton

Anna Todd is such a writer that utilizes Wattpad to release chapters of her story about Tessa and Harry, a college couple with a heartbreaking and inspiring relationship.  By using the app, she can upload a chapter and have readers comment on it. Her story, “After,” has more than a million readers on Wattpad.

The use of such an app is transforming the writing of fiction into an art that is social, informal, and intimate. Wattpad is the leader of this storytelling environment. It has over two million writers who produce approximately 100,000 pieces of material per day for 20 million readers.

Charles Melcher, a publishing consultant who hosts the annual Future of StoryTelling conference, said, “Now that everyone’s been given permission to be creative, new ways of telling stories, of being entertained, are being invented. A lot of people are lamenting the end of the novel, but I think it’s simply evolving.”

Wattpad’s material is mainly aimed at younger women and the app tends to draw readers from fan fiction. The writers are not paid for their work but continue to put up stories, edit them, and delete them. The system of uploading coincides with the fragmentary attention span of the mobile world.

Writers who use Wattpad have the opportunity to establish a fan base and gain free feedback. It is a great stepping-stone to a published novel.  Rebecca Sky, a Wattpad writer, said, “If you can go to a publisher and say, ‘I have 15,000 fans,’ that counts for more than someone who comes out of their basement with a perfect manuscript who knows no one.”

Fans have the opportunity to express their adoration and love of the writers on Wattpad and the stories they enjoy. This relationship with the readers encourages the writers to produce their best work and to constantly keep updating the stories.

Benjamin Mautner Princeton-Josh Turner: Country Star and Author

Josh Turner, popular country singer of songs such as Long Black Train, Your Man, and Time is Love, has announced that his first book will be published April 29. Thomas Nelson, an imprint of Harper Collins Christian Publishing, is the publisher.

The book is titled Man Stuff: Thoughts on Faith, Family, and Fatherhood. Turner describes the bookBenjamin Mautner Princeton as “full of life lessons, life stories from my experiences, things I’ve learned throughout my life, mistakes I’ve made.” Turner decided to write the book after Thomas Nelson suggested it. Turner had been named “Hottest Dad in Country Music” in 2011 by People Magazine so Nelson thought it would be a good time for Turner to write about being a father. The cover of the book supports the family theme as it sports Turner with his three sons: Hampton, Colby, and Marion.Turner says the writing process was actually easier than writing music. “People talk about songwriting being therapy, but for me it was great to not have to be hunched over a guitar or be trying to craft a melody along with the words. I just let the words flow and told stories,” says Turner. However, editing the book took quite some time and effort. “You want to be able to say things the best you possibly can, to make sure people take the best possible lesson away from the story and not come across as preach, coarse, or harsh,” says Turner. Duck Dynasty’s Jase Robertson wrote the book’s forward. He comments on Turner’s sincerity and honesty in his writing when referring to God and His treatment of us “in our strengths, despite our weaknesses.” He also notes that Turner utilizes heartfelt experiences to express his thoughts. Turner got an advance copy of Man Stuff this week and speaks of the pride he felt after completing such a task. “Can you believe your husband has a book?” Turner asked his wife. She replied with, “yeah, and I think you have more in you.”

Maxine Kumin dies at the age of 88

The 88 year old Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Maxine Kumin, passed away February 6th at her farm near Warner, New Hampshire. Maxine served as poetry consultant at the Library of Congress in the early 80’s. She was known for writing much of her work about farm animals, pace of the country life and changing seasons that she was called “Roberta Frost” by some. Her works looked into the timeless theme of life and death and how poetry can spur the spirit of an age.

Maxine Kumin
Maxine Kumin

Her work “Up Country” is the collection that won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. “Up Country” is an 83-page, 42 poem piece that has sharp observations about nature merged with sensitive look at the human understanding of what happened before.

Novelist Joyce Carol Oates said “The experience of ‘Up Country’s’ 42 poems is dramatic and visionary, but above all convincing.” She also goes on to say that although the setting is in rural New England, the imagination in the work is boundless.

Her poetic gaze could look at things as simple as mud, animals dying and excrement and could widen her view to make points related to environment, religious intolerance and warfare. She was a firm believer in poets avoiding political statements, but in 2008 she said she, “changed her mind.” She also said, “I had to write them.” She then wrote “Mulching” in 2007, she discusses feeing like, “a helpless citizen of a country I used to love.”

Ms. Kumin and her husband worked together to clear fields of rocks and trees from their home in New Hampshire in 1976. To build fences, plant a vegetable garden, muck out stables, help mares give birth and split wood. They also gave many abandoned dogs and horses a home in their stables and household.

In 2008, she was quotes saying, “writing is my salvation, if I didn’t write, what would I do?”