Volume 1
An Online Literary Magazine
July 25, 2008


Editor's Note: A Return To Storytelling


Nick O’Connell


Nick O’Connell

eaders crave stories. They may fall in love with characters, savor delicious language, delight in vividly rendered details, but without a story they may lose heart and put the book down.


And yet many writers have abandoned storytelling, one of the surest ways of holding a reader’s attention. One only need mention James Joyce’s Ulysses, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, classic novels all, to note that many of the most prestigious writers eschewed plot almost entirely, or consigned it to a limited role. While this may have allowed them to explore techniques like point of view with great brilliance, it made life difficult for the reading public.


By contrast, nonfiction writers have begun adapting storytelling to their work, giving it a strong narrative sub-structure. John Hersey’s Hiroshima, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff all demonstrate a narrative proficiency that led to prestigious awards and the top of the bestseller lists.


After years of emphasis on technical brilliance, stylistic bravura and subjects that seem to infinitely regress (What’s next, the molecular novel?), fiction writers seem to be returning to story. David Guterson’s novel Snow Falling on Cedars demonstrates the possibilities of combining great storytelling with superb explorations of character and setting in the tradition of great novels of the 19th century like Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Dickens’ Bleak House.


Similarly, his new novel, The Other, which we excerpt in the inaugural issue of The Writer’s Workshop Review, puts all the fictional techniques into play to create a rich, engrossing tale of the friendship between two young men growing up in Seattle, one who pursues a conventional life as a father and teacher, the other who ventures off into the wilderness to become “The Hermit of the Hoh.”


The Writer’s Workshop Review celebrates this narrative revival in fiction and its emergence in nonfiction. We plan to publish the best in narratives from established and new writers. In addition to the excerpt from The Other, we feature an interview with David Guterson by Christian Martin. Interviews of this kind will be a regular feature of the review, exploring how accomplished writers learned and developed the art and craft of writing.


Does the world really need another literary magazine? It’s a fair question. We believe it does. The shrinking length and number of stories in commercial magazines and the often hermetically-sealed world of some contemporary literary reviews leaves plenty of room for a publication that favors strong narratives, compelling characters, and tales told with style, verve and wit.


This inaugural issue features excellent examples of this: “Stone Lambs,” a short story by about an immigrant’s struggle to come to the United States by Jana Harris; “God’s Judgment,” a novel chapter about a native attack on the early settlement of Seattle by Peter Donahue; “A Rare Blend,” a comic account of wine tasting in Bordeaux, France by Erin Byrne; “Climbing the Dragon’s Back,” my story of climbing Wolf’s Head Peak in the Wind River Range. This last story will be the first in a series of Dispatches columns about my travels.


We hope you enjoy the first issue of The Writer’s Workshop Review. Please let us know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you!



All best,


Nicholas O’Connell

Publisher/ Editor

The Writer’s Workshop Review








Launching a literary magazine doesn’t happen without a lot of help. I would especially like to thank Tom Remmers for his wizardry in programming the website.


Jesse Young created a simple, elegant design, enhancing the readability of the text and the appeal of the visual art.


Jessica Murphy and Morgan Frank of Memorious generously shared their expertise on setting up and running a literary magazine.


Managing editor Kathleen Glassburn kept the production process on track, editing the stories, revising the headlines and asking the right questions about the magazine’s direction.


Scott Driscoll, David Downing, Jessica Murphy, Jessica Gilroy, Kate Jackson, Kennan Knudson, Marcella Van Oel winnowed the many fine submissions we received, selecting strong and imaginative stories. Proofreaders Julie Willis and Patrice Lewis dotted the is and crossed the ts.


Cappi Williamson of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. worked diligently to obtain the publisher’s permission to use the excerpt from David Guterson’s The Other.


I would especially like to thank my students at The Writer’s Workshop. Their enthusiasm for great writing convinced me that it was possible and important to start such a review. Their continued support, as well as that of my wife, Lisa, and family, has allowed me to see it through to completion.






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