Admittedly a little taken aback when author Joyce Carol Oates read the last chapter of her new novel, Mudwoman, at a recent reading by the Center for Fiction, it got me thinking (doesn’t everything?). Richard Ford had just read the first chapter of Canada, his latest book, so when Oates stepped up to the podium we anticipated something similar. But no, much to our collective amazement, she skipped right to the end.

Here’s where the thinking took me: When It’s OK to Break the Rules