What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander, The New Yorker, 2011

This story is one of my favorites of all time. Like the story it pays tribute to, it is almost exclusively dialogue, and while it does travel more than the original Carver story of a similar name, this piece I think does not only travel farther physically but also emotionally. The question being asked in this story is far more concrete than that of “love,” and the segways taken in this piece, reminiscent of the original lead to and flow back to much more profound issues, mostly by way of their concreteness.

I read this piece (again) in order to use it as a teaching tool for writing dialogue. Dialogue should do at least two of these at any given time, create or resolve tension, reveal a character, progress the plot. This piece commonly has sequences of dialogue in which all three of these are achieved simultaneously. The dialogue introduces concepts early on that later have meaningful impacts on the plot and the characters, as their relationships to one another are slowly revealed. (A, all day)


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