How Fiction Works

An excellent review/takedown (reviewdown?) of James Wood’s How Fiction Works, a book that the instructors at the University of Arizona have, for lack of a better phrase, been shoving down our throats the past year or so.  My feelings are that it’s a worthwhile book so long as you realize that its title is a complete misnomer.  A useful rule of thumb to remember about critics is the only thing that separates them from you is they’ve read more books.  James Wood’s read a lot of books, and he likes Saul Bellow.  I’ve read a lot of books (admittedly probably one-hundredth of the number Wood has read) and I like John Hawkes.  Wood’s definition of “how fiction works” is depressingly narrow, and would make me want to give up the venture entirely were it not for this: he’s incorrect.  Fiction is not about–never about–one thing.  That’s why it’s still here.

–Jonathon Walter

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About sonorareview

Founded in 1980, Sonora Review is the oldest student-run literary journal in the country. From start to finish, each issue is put together solely by graduate students in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Arizona. All staff members volunteer their time. Former staff members include Antonya Nelson, Robert Boswell, Richard Russo, Tony Hoagland, and David Foster Wallace. Work originally printed in the Sonora Review has appeared in Best of the West and Best American Poetry, and has won O.Henry Awards and Pushcart Prizes. Sonora Review maintains a congenial relationship with the Department of English while safeguarding the editors' complete aesthetic and managerial control. You can contact Sonora Review via email at: Or by mail at: Sonora Review Department of English University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721

3 thoughts on “How Fiction Works

    • Wynn, we’ll be receiving the issues this week/next week and shipping immediately. We had a few run ins with the printer and had to redesign some things… but i promise… mid feb with issue 58 out in may. lo siento if your waiting on one.

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