LIVE! #54
5 November 2023

Agenda



  • Why We're Here

  • Literary Forensics
  •     - What do I bring?
  •     - What do I feel?
  •     - What do I notice?
  •     - What do I study?

  • Next Month's Reading & Study


Why We're Here

We Writers want to improve our craft

by Reading like a Writer

through Literary Forensics training

we learn from each other

Roundtable Rules

Always refer back to the book

We practice active listening & serendipity

Every feeling and observation is valid...
but not every conclusion

Always refer back to the book

Literary Forensics

 

What do I bring?

What do I feel?

What do I notice?

What do I study?

Literary Forensics

 

What do I bring?

What do I feel?

What do I notice?

What do I study?

Introductions

What do I bring
to this book?

Meet today's author: Nell Zink

  • Born in California in 1964, raised in rural Virginia, Zink also lived in Washington D.C. and New Jersey before emigrating to Europe in her 30s.
  • From 1993-1997 Zink produced the zine Animal Review, featuring music reviews by various contributors and short stories by her about animals.
  • Since 1996 Zink has lived in Israel, Germany (2000), and most recently in Switzerland (2022), where she teaches at the University of Berne.

  • After fifteen years spent writing fiction exclusively for a single penpal, the Israeli postmodernist Avner Shats, Zink caught the attention of Jonathan Franzen in 2012 with a letter promoting the work of the German ornithologist Martin Schneider-Jacoby and asking for his help to save birds in the Balkans.
  • After Franzen learned that Zink had no published literary work he championed her first novel, helping to get it published in 2014.

  • Novels
  • The Wallcreeper 2014; Mislaid 2015; Nicotine 2016; Private Novelist 2016; Doxology 2019; Avalon 2022

[Bricklaying] was more valuable for my intellectual life than my entire college career."
     - Nell Zink

Literary Forensics

 

What do I bring?

What do I feel?

What do I notice?

What do I study?

What do I feel?

What in the book elicited that feeling?

Every feeling and observation is valid...
but every conclusion should be questioned

We practice serendipity
- nothing is too crazy

Always refer back to the book

Literary Forensics

 

What do I bring?

What do I feel?

What do I notice?

What do I study?

What do I notice?


  •    • Language and Grammar

  •    • Context

  •    • Point of view

  •    • Character & character development

  •    • Pacing

  •    • Horizontal structure

  •    • Layering of themes

  •    • Overall effect

Literary Forensics

 

What do I bring?

What do I feel?

What do I notice?

What do I study?

Writing Avalon

  • Zink's uncle Charlie was a flamenco guitarist who lived in LA and died recently. She says that he was "manipulated by an evil crime family."
  • Zink enjoys reading high fantasy novels, and says her favorite novel is The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany.


  • About Avalon: "In a weird way it's autofiction. Deeply encoded autofiction. It took me 20 years to get my head around the complexity." "Autofiction of one of the great love stories of our time."
  • Having written about 9/11 and the Trump era in Doxology, Zink says that Avalon is set in the early 2010s "right before everything went to hell because it’s very hard to write any kind of book set in the age of Trump or Covid."
  • Given her own background, Zink chose to write unsatirically about an impoverished Gen Z protagonist.
  • Living in Europe has given Zink a perspective of America that she voices through Peter.

  • Avalon is the first of a 2-book deal with Knopf (2024)

Stats & Background

  • Marketing: Friendship Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction, Literary Fiction
  • Genre: Realistic Historical Long-Form Arch-Plot
  • Print Pages: 224; Word count: 59,458; Reading Grade: 8th
    Avg. wds/sent.: 13.42; Lexical Density: 47.38; Flesch Reading Ease: 69.23

  • POV: Bran
    Person: 1st; Tense: Past

  • Publish date: May 24, 2022
  • Publisher: a Borzoi Book: Knopf, Random House
  • Audio book length: (6 hours 21 mins); Narr. Justis Bolding

  • For more on Zink, here's a recent inverview and a 2015 New Yorker profile
  • Although Zink has a reputation for writing quickly, and she wrote the first 1/3 of The Wallcreeper in 4 days, the remainder took her a year (and not 3 weeks). Zink says that Doxology took her years to write, and Avalon about 6 months.

  • Zink says she learned from the Iowa Writers Workshop to now always answer that question with: "9 years."

Literary Forensics

 

What do I bring?

What do I feel?

What do I notice?

What do I study?

Writers Who Read: Coming Up

December 3: Trust - Hernan Diaz (USA, 2022)

Thanks to: Boulder Writers Alliance

Contact Gary: hello@garyalanmcbride.com
Literary Forensics Resources

Happy
Sleuthing!