Wallace-Syllabus

A Syllabus from one of David Foster Wallace’s classes. Notice the use of the term “narcotizing.”

Fans of Kingsley Amis, Dave Eggers, Margaret Atwood, and Haruki Murakami will enjoy this podcast. It is a live recording of a meeting of the Austin Writing Workshop held on July 9, 2014. Excerpts from “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood and “Opposite Days” by Frank Marcopolos are also included. The main topics of discussion are the literary and philosophical merits of the two stories just mentioned, plus the movie “Intersection” with Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, and Lolita Davidovich.

Timestamps with more precise topics of conversation are provided below:

0:00 Excerpt from “Opposite Days” by Frank Marcopolos

1:38 Frank’s Introduction to the Podcast

2:16 Excerpt from “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood

3:16 Group analysis of “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood, including understanding theme, essay versus short story as a way to transmit a message, the Socratic method of determining truth, Atwood’s target market for the story, Atwood’s intended message, “Hair Jewelry,” flat and dull characters, genre writing, the market of genre writing versus literary fiction, the syllabus for classes taught by David Foster Wallace, Stephen King’s new story in “Esquire Magazine,” comparison to “The Babysitter” by Robert Coover, disjointed narrative styles, and making the reader work hard to understand what is happening in a story.

28:35 Group analysis of “Opposite Days” by Frank Marcopolos, including authenticity of the female voice in the story, minimalism, maximalism (and the contrast of both and the effect of such contrast), philtrums(!!!), the theme of mating rituals (and societal norms) and the consequences of reversing them, comedy in the story, abruptness of the ending and its effect, leaving a story open for discussion, #FAIL, sports celebrities, power struggles among men and women, “Franny and Zooey” by J.D. Salinger, testing of potential mates, reusing the same characters from previous stories (intertextuality), character construction and continuity with dialogue and narration, chiarroscurro, postmodern allowances in storytelling, clarity of setting, “LeBronning” as a joke in a story and the ability of the reader to follow such a specific detail, the “Walmart for your literary needs,” William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County stories, character motivations, and different levels of successful themes.

1:08:03 Group analysis of the movie “Intersection,” starring Richard Gere, Lolita Davidovich, and Sharon Stone, written by David Rayfiel and Marshall Brickman, and directed by Mark Rydell. Discussion includes building characters, casting, formulaic plot, evolution over time of a writer’s ability to construct successful elements of plot and other characteristics, character sympathy, and developing a question rather than an answer.

Posted by Frank Marcopolos

Frank Marcopolos lives in Austin, Texas. Hiding from the ever-present Texas sun because of a well-founded fear of skin cancer, he writes short stories and novels that have been praised by some readers, while others have been, like, "Meh." He also produces free audiobooks of public domain works on his YouTube channel. You can subscribe to that here: http://youtube.com/brooklynfrank

2 Comments

  1. Just when you become convinced literary fiction isn’t relevant in today’s landscape, turns out it is. Even for something as “mundane” as dating, there are new lessons to be learned [through literary fiction].

  2. […] These discussions and many, many more on Sat Show 63: Saturday Show on FrankMarcopolos.com […]

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