|Madison Smartt Bell|
Whether he's writing about the Haitian Revolution or a white Tae Kwon Do teacher in the Baltimore ghetto, Madison Smartt Bell can be extraordinarily flexible while maintaining his simple but poetic way with language. As the New York Times Book Review once put it, "[Bell] has an uncanny understanding of the way many people must struggle to live."
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Madison Smartt Bell
Date of Birth:
August 1, 1957
Place of Birth:
A.B. in English, Princeton University, 1979; M.A. in English and creative writing, Hollins College, 1981
Guggenheim Fellow, 1991; NEA Fellowship, 1992; John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, 2001
Madison Smartt Bell's official web site
|A Favorite Novel from Bell|
Bell took issue with our question about which book had influenced his life the most: "Peter Rabbit? The Holy Bible? The Hobbit? I mean, really," he responded. But he agreed to pick this Dostoevsky classic. "I read this novel in college, when I had been trying write seriously myself for a couple of years, and it made me see how psychological events can be seen as magical or mystical events operating from outside the psyche -- or vice versa -- and that really the distinction between the two categories is arbitrary -- there is no real difference when the experience is the same. And this idea lies behind a lot of what I wrote later."
More from this interview
|"'Where do you get your ideas from?' may be the dumbest and deadliest question a professional writer can be asked," Bell wrote in an essay in Zoetrope All-Story. "A sure sign that the interview, Q&A session, or whatever, is headed for a nosedive. And yet, one does get asked this with some regularity, so I have prepared the following snappy reply: My ideas are dictated to me by demons."|
This answer has the effect (usually) of changing the subject pretty quickly. I assume the audience registers it as no more than a dodge, a jokey evasion. Which in a way it is. On the other hand, I actually do believe it."
|Historical Fiction by Bell||Bell's Writing Advice|
|All Souls' Rising|
Madison Smartt Bell
Bell -- a white Southern writer whose ancestors owned slaves -- produced a remarkable achievement in his two novels about the Haitian Revolution; a third and final volume in the series about the rise and fall of Toussaint Louverture is forthcoming.
|Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form|
Madison Smartt Smartt Bell
In this instructive volume, Bell -- who teaches writing at Goucher College in Baltimore -- spells out the basic elements of fiction, using short stories from Peter Taylor, Mary Gaitskill, William T. Vollmann and others as examples. A previous book, Narrative Design: A Writer's Guide to Structure, is out of print.
|Photo by Marion Ettlinger||