Doomsday Fiction Reading List

by Salvatore Pane

This semester I’m teaching two intermediate fiction workshops, one at the University of Pittsburgh and one at Chatham University. I’m really excited to teach both classes–in addition to my written professional communication class–and I thought, like last semester, that I’d share my reading list. Christopher Higgs just posted his over at HTMLGIANT, and I wish more people would. I’m always interested in seeing what exactly teachers are giving to their students as models. This year’s version of the class is a synthesis of the two other times I’ve taught a fiction workshop. I took what I thought were the most successful of the readings–not what the students liked best because those aren’t always the same–and combined them into one mega course. The plan is that next semester, if I’m lucky enough to teach additional workshops, I’ll add a bunch of stories–around 25%–that I haven’t taught before just to keep things interesting.

Keep in mind. I’m obviously very interested in showing students the classics IN ADDITION to the hyper contemporary folks, but my usual stance is that if everyone in the class has already read “A&P”, I’ll pull an audible and assign something else. However, I also think it’s my responsibility to make sure these kids don’t end up in major cap classes without knowing who Carver and Flannery O’Connor and Baldwin are. That can’t happen.

Jennifer Egan A Visit from the Goon Squad
Justin Taylor “Tetris”
Amelia Gray “Dinner”
Donald Bartheleme “The School”
John Updike “A&P”
Raymond Carver “Cathedral”
Lorrie Moore “How to Become a Writer”
Anton Chekhov “The Lady with the Pet Dog”
Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
Tim O’Brien “The Things They Carried”
Barry Hannah “Testimony of Pilot”
James Alan McPherson “Why I Like Country Music”
A.M. Homes “The Former First Lady and the Football Hero”
Jonathan Lethem “Super Goat Man”
George Saunders “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline”
ZZ Packer “Dayward”
Richard Yates “The Best of Everything”
Wells Tower “The Brown Coast”
Wells Tower “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned”
Ethan Canin “The Year of Getting to Know Us”
Tobias Wolff “Bullet in the Brain”
Lorrie Moore “People Like That Are the Only People Here”
Flannery O’ Connor “Everything That Rises Must Converge”
Dan Chaon “Big Me”
James Baldwin “Sonny’s Blues”
Rick Moody “The Apocalyptic Commentary of Bob Paisner”
Andre Dubus “The Fat Girl”
Jamaica Kincaid “Girl”
Matt Bell “His Last Great Gift”