By Michael Stephens
One of America's best young writers presents a critical appreciation of voice in short fiction, using drama and poetry to frame his discussion.
Discussing contemporary voice in American fiction, Stephens says: "There is a cadence which the writer steals from the actual, shaping this rhythm into the voice of fiction. When tension enters into the equation of speech and voice, dramaturgical moments occur. Actors transform words into living moments. So do writers."
Stephens draws on world literature to illustrate his concept of voice. He discusses early influences such as Beckett, Kafka, Borges, and Babel. He focuses on Paul Blackburn, Joel Oppenheimer, Gilbert Sorrentino, Hubert Selby, Jr., Vietnam war fiction writers (Larry Heinemann, Gustav Hasford, Stephen Wright, W. D. Ehrhart, Robert Auletta, among others), Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Stephen Dixon, Harold Pinter, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, and a host of others.