Roxane Gay’s introduction to The Masters Review, Volume VI (2017)


I’ll close this four-story visit to The Masters Review (volume VI) with a paragraph I really liked from Roxane Gay’s three-page introduction to the volume (available online).

“When I am judging a literary contest, I am often asked what I am looking for in a good short story or essay. I offer up the kinds of work I am not really interested in reading—stories about college students, stories about writers, stories about sad white people in sad marriages, stories about addiction, stories about cancer. This probably seems overly prescriptive but when you read a certain kind of story too many times, you develop emotional callouses. The only thing that heals those emotional callouses is a great writing that offers up something refreshing and unexpected, whether it’s a writing style or a unique character or a rich sense of place or an unforgettable plot.”

It made me think of Michael Chabon’s description of the predominant type of short story these days as the “contemporary, quotidian, plotless, moment-of-truth revelatory story”—a description that The Masters Review volume goes a long way to dispel.

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