Colson Whitehead

Pleasant and Painful Experiences


A few weeks ago, Glen Duncan reviewed Colson Whitehead’s Zone One and he certainly got a vocal reaction, not necessarily because it was a less than glowing review but because of how he wrote the review, the strange and insulting analogies he made and so on. In his review he, among other things, attempts to predict what those ultimate arbiters of literary taste– reviewers–might have to say. As he discusses the literary nature of the novel, Duncan writes, ” We get, in short, an attempt to take the psychology of the premise seriously, to see if it makes a relevant shape.” He also revisits this idea of porn starts, throughout. Ooh! He said porn star in a literary review! Edgy! Today, he wrote a defense (???) of his review. He responded to the criticism of his criticism with more criticism! Meta! The follow up can be summarized thusly: You are all haters who didn’t understand what I wrote.


Roundup / 40 Comments
November 18th, 2011 / 5:13 pm

Twitter MFA

In which we do a close-reading of a Tweeter’s Tweet draft and assess its tone, theme, synecdoche and narrative arc, among other things. Today’s Tweet draft was written by Colson Whitehead. Join us in two weeks for a discussion of a Tweet draft written by Drew Kalbach.

The Tweet draft:

This is one in a series of linked tweets about a small West Virginia mining town. Revolving narrators, characters in common, bittersweet.

It is not this Tweet draft alone that awes us, but the notion that Whitehead is mining the depths of his past in order to present to us a courageous work of Tweet. Whitehead, who hails from the small town of Manhattan, West Virginia, located in the Eastern Panhandle, is a Tweeter most capable of pulling off such a masterful rendition of the linked genre: the story-in-Tweets, an updating of the classic novel-in-stories genre we have seen so successfully employed by writers since Sherwood Anderson. Of Whitehead’s ambitious project, Hart Crane, who also has a highly visible social media presence, recently Tweeted: “@America should read @colsonwhitehead’s Tweets on her knees. They are an important update in the feed of her consciousness.” (Of course, it should be noted that this is Crane’s transparent ploy to get retweets from both Whitehead and America.)


Author Spotlight / 6 Comments
May 13th, 2011 / 2:03 pm

NYers: April 6, Rumpus Party!

If you live in NY, you should not miss this. Look at that! Also, just announced, there will also be a first ever reading from the Sam Lipsyte Creative Ensemble.

The Rumpus folks have offered to give away a pair of tickets to a random Giant reader. If you live in town and can make it, comment and we’ll draw at random someone on Friday evening to get the goods.

Otherwise, tickets can be gathered here:

Contests & Web Hype / 26 Comments
April 1st, 2010 / 6:08 pm

Colson Whitehead for Secretary of Post-racial Affairs

Pop culture is the arena for our hopes, our fears and our most cherished dreams. It is our greatest export to the world. That’s why as your secretary of postracial affairs I’ll concentrate on the entertainment industry.

Published a couple weeks ago in the NYT, but I didn’t know about it till I saw it linked on Amber Noelle Sparks’s blog, which itself is today’s fun new discovery.

Author Spotlight / 10 Comments
November 16th, 2009 / 5:25 pm