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  • minimalisms
  • Jesse Ball, Kevin Canty, Monica Drake, Amelia Gray, Phil Greaney, Sheila Heti, Tao Lin, Bobbie Ann Mason, Robert Miltner, Melinda Moustakis, Nami Mun, Shouhua Qi, Ron Riekki, James Robison, Justin Sirois, Tom Spanbauer, and Michael Trussler

Overheard My Father Speaking to a Man in the Middle of the Night Who Said He Had Come From an Accident: wanted to use the telephone. My father told him there was no telephone. Man said again there was an accident. My father told him we didn't have a telephone. Everyone has a telephone. I need to use it. Don't you see, opening the door a little, there's no telephone anywhere.

Jesse Ball, author of The Curfew (2011)

More of a critic's word than a writer's word. I have learned the world from Carver, Hemingway, Beatty, Babel—all writers who have been called minimalist— but what I've learned is concision, precision, economy, etc. I've never gotten a dime's worth of value from the contemplation of minimalism itself.

Kevin Canty, author of Everything (2010)

About the time I first read Raymond Carver, I was crazy about Tom Verlaine, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Jonathan Richmond. It was in the associative leaps between stripped-down lines of seemingly narrative lyrics I found the raw energy of minimalism and its power to muscle emotion into the world.

Monica Drake, author of Clown Girl (2007)

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Perfection is achieved when there is nothing left.

Amelia Gray, author of Threats (2012)

Minimalist writing empowers the reader intent on finding a rich reading experience. Rather than demand the reader follows a pre-ordained path created by the author, it creates gaps—deliberate omissions, in form, function and style—in which the reader is free to determine his or her interpretation. The price the reader pays is that they must give themselves over equally to the text.

Phil Greaney, author of "Less is More: Literary Minimalism in American Short Story. (2006)

When I read a sentence and someone says "tree" or "mountain" or "Linda," immediately in my head is a whole and complete "Linda," "mountain." I see every detail. If they then begin giving me details, it's really frustrating; it counters the image that's already there. They're never quick enough to undo the mountain, chair, in my head. I imagine everyone is like this, so I never describe chairs or Lindas or anything.

Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be? (2012)

I currently try to avoid defining or earnestly using the word "minimalism" for many reasons. One is to avoid further training my brain to discern abstractions instead of uniqueness, so that when I encounter [person/thing] my brain won't as strongly discern [abstraction] and inaccurately transfer qualities of [abstraction] to [person/thing].

Tao Lin, author of Richard Yates (2010)

This label was the rage in the eighties. Gag me with a spoon. Critics trying to label a bunch of short-story writers set Raymond Carver on the throne of minimalism and grouped the rest of us at his feet. But we were just trying to write stories.

Bobbie Ann Mason, author of The Girl in the Blue Beret (2011)

Named after a 1960s pop culture art movement characterized by impersonal stark canvasses, minimalism is a writing style using simplicity of form and content, bare settings, stock characters, limited dialogue and silences, present tense tension, and open endings. Its progeny are the quirky brevities and micro-fictional darlings of online journals.

Robert Miltner, co-editor with Sandra Lee Kleppe of New Paths to Raymond Carver (2008)

How to describe minimalism? There is an invisible forest. You, the author, have cut down all the trees. But you don't describe the forest to the reader. You only hold up the axe. But the reader knows that forest is out there, can feel it on the blade.

Melinda Moustakis, author of Bear Down, Bear North (2011)

Minimalism is the art of building by subtraction. By silencing the noise of a sentence, by compressing emotion...


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