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By Bret Anthony Johnston, Melissa Pritchard

Poets & Writers “Best Books for Writers" selection
Publishers Weekly “Top 10: Literary Biographies, Essays & Criticism"
In an essay entitled “Spirit and Vision" Melissa Pritchard poses the query: “Why write?" Her resolution reverberates all through A Solemn excitement, providing an indisputable case for either the ability of language and the nurturing fidelity of the writing lifestyles. no matter if describing the deeply inside innovative existence required to write down fiction, looking for the misplaced legacy of yankee literature as embodied via Walt Whitman, being embedded with a tender girl GI in Afghanistan, touring with Ethiopian tribes, or revealing the heartrending tale of her informally followed son William, a former Sudanese baby slave, this is often nonfiction vividly engaged with the area. In those fifteen essays, Pritchard stocks her ardour for writing and storytelling that educates, honors, and inspires.
Melissa Pritchard is the writer of, so much lately, the unconventional Palmerino and the fast tale assortment The Odditorium. Her books have acquired the Flannery O'Connor, Janet Heidinger Kafka, and Carl Sandburg awards and of her brief fiction collections have been ny instances amazing publication and Editors' selection choices. Pritchard has labored as a journalist in Afghanistan, India, and Ethiopia, and her nonfiction has seemed in quite a few courses, together with O, The Oprah journal, Arrive, Chicago Tribune, and Wilson Quarterly. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Additional resources for A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write (The Art of the Essay Series)

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Mallarme, the Hamlet of writing, as it were, well represents this precarious moment of History in which literary language persists only the better to sing the necessity of its death. Mallarme's typographical agraphia seeks to create around rarefied words an empty zone in which speech, liberated from its guilty social overtones, may, by some happy contrivance, no longer reverberate. The word, dissociated from the husk of habitual cliches, and from the technical reflexes of the writer, is then freed from responsibility in relation to all possible context; it appears in one brief act, which, being devoid of reflections, declares its solitude, and therefore its innocence.

To say that this truth is of a poetic order is merely to say that the Word in poetry can never be untrue, because it is a whole; it shines with an infinite freedom and prepares to radiate towards innumerable uncertain and possible connections. Fixed connections being abolished, the word is left only with a vertical project, it is like a monolith, or a pillar which plunges into a totality of meanings, reflexes and recollections: it is a sign which stands. The poetic word is here an act without immediate past, without environment, and which holds forth only the dense shadow of reflexes from 47 WRITING DEGREE ZERO all sources which are associated with it.

They have therefore undermined literary language, they have ceaselessly exploded the ever-renewed husk of cliches, of habits, of the formal past of the writer; in a chaos of forms and a wilderness of words they hoped they would achieve an object wholly delivered of History, and find again the freshness of a pristine state of language. But such upheavals end up by leav74 AND SILENCE ing their own tracks and creating their own laws. The threat of becoming a Fine Art is a fate which hangs over any language not based exclusively on the speech of society.

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