Out of stock
Once a week Fridays, 6:00 pm EST - 8:00 pm EST January 6 to February 10, 2023
Online via Zoom
This workshop has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Randy Winston at [email protected].
Oftentimes, writers who are early in the writing journey are strong on voice, suspicious of plot. Voice is thrilling and creative, the mark of true art and artists. Narrative is corny and tedious, the stuff of airport thrillers. But to make a novel work—to make any extended work work—a successful writer needs some mix of each. This workshop will focus on the merits and seductions of voice and narrative, respectively, along with how these vital story elements work with and push off each another.
We’ll start with voice—because discovering your writing voice is a massive achievement, voice does power lots of first novels. SO the first weeks will delve into the many ways voice can act as a mad scientist’s lab, and can carry a reader. This will start us down the road towards connections between narrative voice and character. We’ll look at how to use voice to drop narrative clues (whether our narrator understands they are clues or not). Soon enough we’ll turn to narrative. Why is its pull so strong and often so misused? Why are Raymond Chandler’s cynical and hard boiled and gorgeous sentences so important to his twisting noir mysteries? What function does the charming voice of The Princess Bride play in the appeal of its fairy tale? Time will be spent exploring the novelistic notion of ‘seduce and betray,” and the direct connection between the beginning of a novel and its ending. Maybe the relationship between voice and narrative isn’t as antagonistic as it’s often understood to be.
Readings might include Jonathan Safran Foer, Helen DeWitt, Edward P. Jones, Viet Nguyen, Carmen Maria Machado, Amy Hempel, David Mitchell, Teju Cole, Raymond Chandler, Margret Atwood, William Goldman, Carole Maso, and Anthony Burgess. Having said all this, the teacher reserves the right to change things up, and it is entirely possible we won’t get to all these writers.
Charles Bock is the author of two novels—Alice & Oliver and Beautiful Children, which was a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book, and which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Slate, as well as in numerous anthologies. He has received fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri foundation, Yaddo, UCross, and others. He teaches writing workshops at NYU and has taught in Columbia’s MFA program and all over the nation. Charles lives in NYC with his daughters.
By Charles Bock
Alice & Oliver
By Charles Bock
Published by Random House
New York, 1993. Alice Culvert is a caring wife, a doting new mother, a loyal friend, and a soulful artist—a fashion designer who wears a baby carrier and haute couture with equal aplomb. In their loft in Manhattan’s gritty Meatpacking District, Alice and her husband, Oliver, are raising their infant daughter, Doe, delighting in the wonders of early parenthood.
Their life together feels so vital and full of promise, which makes Alice’s sudden cancer diagnosis especially staggering. In the span of a single day, the couple’s focus narrows to the basic question of her survival. Though they do their best to remain brave, each faces enormous pressure: Oliver tries to navigate a labyrinthine healthcare system and handle their mounting medical bills; Alice tries to be hopeful as her body turns against her. Bracing themselves for the unthinkable, they must confront the new realities of their marriage, their strengths as partners and flaws as people, how to nourish love against all odds, and what it means to truly care for another person.
Inspired by the author’s life, Alice & Oliver is a deeply affecting novel written with stunning reserves of compassion, humor, and wisdom. Alice Culvert is an extraordinary character—a woman of incredible heart and spirit—who will remain in memory long after the final page.
By Charles Bock
Published by Random House
One Saturday night in Las Vegas, twelve-year-old Newell Ewing goes out with a friend and doesn’t come home. In the aftermath of his disappearance, his mother, Lorraine, makes daily pilgrimages to her son’s room and tortures herself with memories. Equally distraught, the boy’s father, Lincoln, finds himself wanting to comfort his wife even as he yearns for solace, a loving touch, any kind of intimacy.
As the Ewings navigate the mystery of what’s become of their son, the circumstances surrounding Newell’s vanishing and other events on that same night reverberate through the lives of seemingly disconnected strangers: a comic book illustrator in town for a weekend of debauchery; a painfully shy and possibly disturbed young artist; a stripper who imagines moments from her life as if they were movie scenes; a bubbly teenage wiccan anarchist; a dangerous and scheming gutter punk; a band of misfit runaways. The people of Beautiful Children are “urban nomads,” each with a past to hide and a pain to nurture, every one of them searching for salvation and barreling toward destruction, weaving their way through a neon underworld of sex, drugs, and the spinning wheels of chance.
In this masterly debut novel, Charles Bock mixes incandescent prose with devious humor to capture Las Vegas with unprecedented scope and nuance and to provide a glimpse into a microcosm of modern America. Beautiful Children is an odyssey of heartache and redemption heralding the arrival of a major new writer..
About this series
We strive to make our classes the most inviting and rewarding available, offering an intimate environment to study with award-winning, world-class writers. Each class is specially designed by the instructor, so whether you’re a fledgling writer or an MFA graduate polishing your novel, you’ll find a perfect fit here.
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