Our last geeky proofreading factoid caused a riot on the quad of our campus, with pro-hyphenation factions dance-fighting anti-hyphenation factions, so we thought we’d fuel the revolution by pointing out another change to the Chicago Manual of Style: “The title of a work that ends in a question mark or exclamation point should now be followed by a comma if the grammar of the sentence would normally call for one or, in source citations or in an index, if a comma would normally follow the title.”
Whoa. You might want to go back to your Swamplandia! or U.S.! essay and stick in some more commas.
While we continue to check our own commas, here is some bonus commentary from the writers in our current issue:
Anthony Varallo: Most of my stories are written in a matter of weeks or months; “Some Other Life,” though, took ten years. This was due to a deeply intellectual/aesthetic crisis I experienced about halfway through, called But I Have No Idea What Happens Next. So for a decade I scrolled through the story (insert video montage of seasonal change, presidencies coming and going, me switching Mira’s “Walkman” on page one to “iPod”) until I realized I hadn’t really figured out why Mira felt so down. Imagining her broken engagement—and following it wherever it might lead me—helped carry the story to its long-overdue completion.
Keith Lee Morris: I have no idea what the hell I was thinking when I wrote “Diego Rivera.” I remember this: I had a dream that I was staying in this big hotel somewhere on the coast of Mexico, and someone was painting a mural on the wall of the hotel bar. I like to write from dreams, and that was enough to get me started. The rest just kind of happened on its own—I know at some point I was remembering two early Woody Allen plays, God and Death (that had something to do with the baby running around in the fog and the character talking to actors on a stage). Then Diego Rivera got involved (someone had to paint the mural, after all), and somehow, armed with just a bucket of the wrong color paint and a roller, he ended up in a duel with the silent, insensate universe.
Alexander Lumans: My story started with the word: birdmen. Nothing about it ever sounded amiable or charitable. It’s the kind of word that I could picture people being frightened to say too loudly, outside, for fear of what it might suddenly conjure up or call down. This is probably because I’m obsessed with large birds. Up close, they command so much awe. They aren’t too many mutations away from turning into insatiable tyrant-storks; and what better creature to take away human children than the one that supposedly delivers them in the first place?
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