Mar Posted by kristipetersenschoonover. I consider each of my fictions to be a slice of my life: it was always inspired by something real. What makes this piece interesting—and a new favorite—for me is its self-awareness; here is a brilliant piece about what goes on in the head when writing fiction.

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First, I think it's great. But I wonder if I think it's great because I write fiction, so the turn at the end is appealing to me. Has anyone read this story with someone who doesn't give a rip about writing fiction? What was their reaction? Why does this work? I can see this ending going very bad in the hands of most anyone else who tried it or anything like it.

What are the specific mechanical things that let her manage it? Which turn? I felt like there were several changes in direction.

Do you mean the one about the sharks? Even if all the particular events are fabricated, the meta-event i. If it works "as a story," is it perhaps because "the story" isn't the ultimate focus? I think by "turn at the end" you're talking about: "I'm going to start now to tell you what I left out of 'The Harvest. As a writer and lit-nerd I do like it, but it feels a bit dated to me's post-modern profundity. It just doesn't quite hold up for me.

I'd say it works because it's smarter than us at every turn. It is profound. The competing definitions of "harvest" gets the mind churning. But the first line and I may be biased here reads like it was written for Gordon Lish. When everyone was immitating Raymond Carver this story was written, but then everyone was immitating David Foster Wallace and things changed.

As jyh mentions, there is a non-fiction quality to the prose that is incredibly compelling. I think the line on the first page: "But I won't get around to that until a couple of paragraphs. Fiction that reads like non-fiction is impossible to beat. Researching it as I write this, it appears that she wrote a fictional account of real events, then wondered why she wrote it that way and wrote an addendum, and the two were combined to create the final story.

It's a brilliant piece of writing, just time-stamped in my opinion. There are Hempel stories I like a lot more. I am talking about the turn neear the end, the "I'm going to start now and tell you what I left out That's interesting, and it makes sense that maybe she was struggling with the expression and said, You know, maybe I'll mash these two things together.

Maybe express the difficulty by expressing the difficulty. I can see what you're saying about the dated-ness, although that era and style is by far my favorite. And I agree that someone who isn't a lit nerd would probably hate it, but I'm still curious.

And I can see why it's taught a lot. There's a lot to dissect and discuss in a fairly short story. I suspect that I had heard of David Foster Wallace but can't say for sure. I had heard of Raymond Carver but had not read anything by him. Had never heard of Gordon Lish. I had to Google post-modern, which lead me to Google modernism. I tried to read some of the explanations on Wiki but it was very long and full of links that would need to be clicked on and studied, too many for my feeble brain.

While I enjoy writing very much, I'm not a student of the craft, and rarely dig deeper than the "how to" phase. For that reason I really enjoyed Amy's lesson second part of The Harvest.

I can't identify the era of a story by the prose, the tone or the message. For era, the story needs to contain information that informs me of the era.

Similarly, I can't identify schools of thought, such as modernism or post modernism, nor writing styles, or philosophies. I just like what I like with little regard for that stuff. So to answer your question: I liked the story, but am unsure why she included the second part, which I took literally, as a lesson on how to write fiction. I did not consider the second part as intergral to the story, but as a lesson for students, and while I certainly appreciate the second part, I would have liked the story just as much without it.

I reaize that I am probably in a very small minority, but that's how it reads to me. I did not think the narrator had been bitten by a shark, only that she did not wish to explain the accident to a stranger, just as she did not care to type out all the sylabbles in motorcycle.

Not sure why the story works, or what specific mechanics make it work, but it does work. I enjoyed it. Also enjoyed the second part.

It's a great book. To put all that stuff in other terms, for a lot of years short fiction was extremely earnest, and a lot of people believed that great short stories had to end in epiphanies.

So there were a lot of contrived epiphanies. As you can imagine, it got pretty fucking tiresome. Another reaction was irony and self-consciousness, and a constant awareness of the manipulative aspects of writing techniques.

Both of these reactions kind of exploded in the 90's, and for me the Hempel story feels like the second. And all this shit is just my analysis as a heavy reader and wannabe writer over the last 2. I don't have an MFA in any of this stuff. Just spouting opinions, all of them flawed I'm not knowledgable in literature, but am in pop music from the late '50's to now.

In musical terms, what you describe can be understood by comparing Bruce Springsteen - rocks most earnest confessor - to John Mellencamp, a guy who's often compared negatively to Bruce, even sometimes called "a lesser Bruce.

John's best songs are his nasty ones. When JM tries to be earnest, especially when going for an epiphany, he's a snooze, and sometimes even downright embarrassing. I'm not talking about Scarecrow, which has a real nice nasty edge, but rather, a song from that same album called Justice and Independence '85, which is perhaps John's worst song of all time. JM should stick to being the little fucker in the back of class using his pocket knife to carve "school sucks" on the desk.

In that realm he's got it all over Bruce, who's a good Catholic boy. Tom Petty, on the other hand, was perfect when snarky and cynical, yet could also pull off earnesty, a rare musician. Warren Zevon too. Maybe like punk in the Seventies? They were fed up with music as it was, and so forged their own thing.

I like analysis and opinions. I just don't have any when it comes to literature, which makes me Helpful's perfect subject. I read some stuff and like it, read some other stuff and go meh. But the writing part, that I do enjoy. Lately it's become an obsession. At least this obsession won't make me fat. My ice cream obsession nearly killed me. Kedzie, you led me to checking out Mellencamp's worst songs of all time, and I have to agree with you there. That was awful. I'd guess lit, music, and visual arts all have fairly analogous movements through time, being jolted by the same historical events.

The Vietnam War I think being a major before and after culture shift of what art has looked like in our lifetimes. However, Mellencamp is actually fantastic.

The guy has an incredible ear for melody and an amazing catalogue of great songs. Those who can pull it off seem to do it by not trying. Tom Waits and John Prine, for example.

Fun conversation. I know how the Vietnam War changed popular music, I lived through it. Would love to know so feel free to offer your observations. I remember when the war was wrapping up, I read a harrowing novel called Dog Soldiers by a harrowing guy named Robert Stone. I just know that the book had a real vein of darkness running through it.

Kedzie, in my observation it's not about darkness, which I agree has been a staple of art from the very beginning, Beowulf etc WWI had a major impact on all the arts, as I understand it. I'm gen-X, so grew up just post Vietnam, but as I I've come to understand it, pre-Vietnam the instutions of religion, government, and corporations were very much the pillars of society, and though often questioned in literature, it tended to focus on bad actors in the institution; whereas post Vietnam, the institution itself became the potential evil, the pillars were gone for many , and everything was open for exploration.

Elvis was scandalous, and eighteen year old boys were getting their legs blown off on tv at dinner time--there had to be a new exploration of obscenity. A book like J. Ballard's Crash, published in , probably couldn't have existed pre-Vietnam.

There has always been counterculture, and rebellion against social mores, but I think there was a bigger breakdown of meaning with Vietnam, hence a bigger effect on the arts. I know there are people on here that can talk really well about this stuff. Hopefully we'll hear from some of them.



First, I think it's great. But I wonder if I think it's great because I write fiction, so the turn at the end is appealing to me. Has anyone read this story with someone who doesn't give a rip about writing fiction? What was their reaction?


‘The Harvest’ by Amy Hempel

Here is your shot at taking a creative writing course from Amy Hempel. But here? I love it. What is it? Essentially, she tells the same kind of story she was telling throughout her debut collection, Reasons To Live.


Analysis Of The Harvest By Amy Hempel

The year I began to say vahz instead of vase , a man I barely knew nearly accidentally killed me. The man was not hurt when the other car hit ours. I screamed from the fear of pain. But I did not feel any pain. What happened to one of my legs required four hundred stitches, which, when I told it, became five hundred stitches, because nothing is ever quite as bad as it could be.


“The Harvest” (thoughts)


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