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The title comes from a line by writer and editor William Maxwell: “After forty years, what I came to care about most was not style, but the breath of life.” It is one of my favorite quotes. I think Maxwell is saying that we need not worry too much about well-ordered paragraphs or achieving a distinctive syntactic rhythm—that all we need to catch is something ordinary but vital. I’d like us to devote our energies to the act or the practice of accessing both life and style. Readings will include Vivian Gornick on the difference between the situation and the story; John Berger, John McPhee, and Ira Glass on structure; Svetlana Alexievich, Claudia Rankine, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, and Jonathan Franzen on finding words for living and dying; Janet Malcolm and Ian Jack on reporting about a world of differences; David Foster Wallace and Carolyn Forché on travel writing; and the words delivered in court by a woman raped on Stanford's campus—to get to what exactly? Not life simply, or style alone, of course, but to understand what it means to find the right words to challenge the givenness of the world, to make it open to expression and change. Each session will begin with ten minutes of free-writing and will end with a brief discussion of rules of writing. Accepted participants will submit up to 20 pages by noon (MST) on May 17 and will have the opportunity to schedule a meeting with Kumar during the week of class.

Applications for Lit Fest Advanced Workshops close March 15, 12:00 PM. Accepted writers will be given the password to register for the workshop in late March.


Instructor: Amitava Kumar Learn More


Jun 17, 2019 9:00am - 11:45amJun 18, 2019 9:00am - 11:45amJun 19, 2019 9:00am - 11:45amJun 20, 2019 9:00am - 11:45amJun 21, 2019 9:00am - 11:45am