Readings For Writers: Pick of the Week

Every week, a member of the Grub community recommends a book they find helpful or inspirational from a craft perspective. This week, instructor Becky Tuch recommends a new novel she's teaching. 

I've taught a different novel every term in my Jumpstart Your Novel workshop. We've read Richard Yates, Julia Alvarez, Thomas Pynchon, Sue Miller, Russell Banks, Flaubert and Balzac. Right now we're reading Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. I've not read it before; I love discovering the work along with my students. 

We just recently explored an incredible scene where the writer uses the sense of smell to great effect. In the scene, one of the characters is initially overwhelmed by the scent of butterscotch. By the end of the scene all she smells is tobacco. Something has transpired here in which the character moves from innocence to knowledge; the particular smells underscore this experience. This scene was a wonderful springboard to a discussion about using the senses in fiction writing and how smell, in particular, can reveal changes in mood and character within a scene. I am excited to continue discovering this book with my class.

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About the Author

I am a fiction and nonfiction writer, based in Pittsburgh, PA. My fiction has been honored with fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and the Somerville, MA Arts Council, as well as awards from Briar Cliff Review, Glimmer Train and Moment Magazine. Other writing has appeared in Salon, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Post Road, Salt Hill, The Offing, Hobart, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, Literary Mama, Tahoma Literary Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Tikkun, Virginia Quarterly Review online and several anthologies including Best of the Net. In 2010 I created The Review Review, a website dedicated to reviews of lit mags and interviews with journal editors. The Review Review was listed for seven consecutive years in Writer's Digest's list of 101 Best Websites for Writers. I am also the creator of the Lit Mag News Roundup, a bi-weekly newsletter that provides writers and editors with an overview of all the latest news in lit mag publishing.

See other articles by Becky Tuch
by Becky Tuch


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