Tag: Gretchen Shirm

Questions of art in the novels of Siri Hustvedt

by Gretchen Shirm I do not have a particularly visual imagination. I rarely ‘see’ the things that I write. More often than not, I hear the words. I’m never satisfied with anything I’ve written until it ‘sounds right’. This applies as equally to my critical writing as it does to my creative work. It’s almost like a process of tapping on a wall: for me any falseness will always be heard as I repeat the words to myself, rather than seen on the page. Perhaps this is why I find written descriptions of visual art moving. Sometimes more so than…

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On the long novel and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

by Gretchen Shirm The type of novels I like best are roughly around three hundred pages. There is something about the shape of narrative of that length of book that I find deeply satisfying. I think it is about the limitation that length imposes upon a writer – the narrative of the book has to be confined to that space, the novelist has to give more thought to what is left out and to silences. Silences, to me, are perhaps the most important thing about a novel. * Silences ask me as a reader to think, to insert myself into…

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Writing that changed my life: Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation

by Gretchen Shirm When I was younger, it happened all the time that writing changed me. This was because I had read so little, that everything I read seemed new and profound. When I was at high school, novels did this to me. Then it was short stories and poetry. Now, it is usually non-fiction. I read so much, it is rare that I read a piece of writing that has a world altering affect on me. ‘Against Interpretation’[i] was one of the few pieces of writing that changed everything for me. Specifically, it changed how I read and how…

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Notes on metaphor and storytelling

by Gretchen Shirm While I was writing my first book Having Cried Wolf, a collection of interwoven short stories, I had the acute sense of having ‘got’ something, of having understood a concept fundamental to storytelling. At the time, I thought what I had understood was the form of the short story, that after many years of practising by writing short pieces of writing that had no structure, I had learnt how to ‘turn’ a story around a small incident or event. Now, looking back on what I learnt, I think what I came to understand was something broader and…

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July monthly blogger – Gretchen Shirm!

A huge thanks to Claire Scobie for her excellent posts on the process of The Pagoda Tree. This month, our blogger is Gretchen Shirm. Her bio is below. Gretchen Shirm’s collection of interwoven short stories Having Cried Wolf was published in September 2010 and was shortlisted for the UTS/Glenda Adams Award for New Writing. In 2011, she was named as a Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelist. Her writing has been published in Best Australian Stories 2011, Review of Australian Fiction, Southerly, Sydney Review of Books and The Saturday Paper. She is a candidate for her Doctor of Creative Arts at…

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