Salvatore Pane

Tag: Amber Sparks

Advanced Fiction Workshop Fall 2013

Advanced Fiction Workshop
ENGL 472-50X (12032)
MW 4:00-5:20pm

University of Indianapolis
Assistant Professor Salvatore Pane
E-mail: panes@uindy.edu
Credits: 3.0

 

Syllabus
Welcome to Advanced Fiction Workshop

By this point in your creative writing career, you know a few things. You can generate a scene out of nothingness. You can build a setting and populate it with characters who are more than just one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. You can write dialogue. You’ve written more than your share of stories, and hopefully, your writing routine reflects that. Hopefully, you’re working on your craft well before the night before a story is due. Hopefully, you’re even writing fiction even when there are no deadlines or class assignments.

But what is fiction? On a primitive level, we know the answer. But what can fiction do? Can it be more than a simple A to B to C narrative with a traditional rising action and climax, or are there new ways forward we haven’t even imagined yet? And if we are going to live in the world of traditional narrative, how can we do so to the very best of our abilities?

In Advanced Fiction Workshop, you will take the next step toward becoming an active literary citizen in a broadband world. That means not only are you expected to produce and revise a great deal of writing—both creative and critical—but you will be required to learn about and participate in the many writing communities within Indianapolis and nationally via public readings, book reviews, and social media.

Each student will submit 30-44 pages of literary fiction for workshop. You can write traditional short stories or multiple pieces of flash fiction or potentially even novel chapters, but remember, you have to demonstrate the fundamental principles of literary fiction in all of your workshop pieces. I want to see structure, character, development. I want nuance and complexity. I don’t want filler pieces meant to get you closer to the page requirement.

Substantial revisions will be required. Substantial revision does not mean fixing grammar. Substantial revision usually means a complete rewrite and perhaps multiple rewrites. Students must also post 500-750 word critiques for every student workshop. Similarly, you will read a large amount of published fiction. Students will post 500-750 word ACE Takeaway Posts for every published piece of fiction we read.

Reading so much literary fiction will allow you to build a library of published stories in your head. Students are expected to use their knowledge of writers like ZZ Packer or Jorge Luis Borges or Richard Yates to comment about peer work up for discussion. Students will make parallels and use the published work to inform their critiques of peer work. The majority of the course will be spent workshopping. The goal of the course is for you to not only become a better writer, but to become an active literary citizen who can participate in the ongoing dialogue concerning fiction.

 

By the end of the course successful students will:

 

Use basic elements of craft (image, voice, character, setting, etc.) to create 30-44 pages of thoughtful literary fiction.

Employ critical-reading skills while analyzing, for specific issues of craft, a wide range of published and peer fiction.

Substantially revise their work by utilizing critical feedback generated by class discussion and written critiques.

Contribute thoughtful and complex commentary to discussions of published and peer fiction.

 

Workshop

 

You will be prepared for every workshop class by doing the following:

1.) Write comments in the margins of stories up for discussion. You MUST use the comments feature in Microsoft Word. All comments will be transparent to the entire class. I want you to upload your marked up versions of workshopped stories to Ace under the student-in-question’s forum. Failure to do so will negatively impact your grade. Also, DO NOT FORGET TO BRING A PRINT OUT OF THE STORY IN QUESTION TO CLASS. This is mandatory. If you don’t, I will mark you absent.

2.) Write a 500-750 word critique for each peer written story we read this semester. You must critique the story based on its own intentions. For example, if the writer is attempting to write in the realist mode of Ray Carver, do not suggest adding a mysterious underground school ala Patrick Somerville just because you don’t like realism. On the flip side, don’t knock an experimental story because you prefer realism. Judge the work the writer wrote, not the work you want to write. Try and help them see how they could better serve their material and unique world vision. In your responses, first describe what you think the writer is attempting to do and what the story is about— this should be the shortest section. Then discuss the piece’s strengths. Finish with prescription, a section where you point out very specific things that still need work within the story. Go beyond grammar. Character, plot, prose, all the building blocks of writing are on the table. You must use the description, strength, prescription model.

3.) Post your critique and margin comments to Ace by 12am the night before workshop. All critiques will be visible to all members of the class, and I encourage you to read what your peers are saying about every story. Name your thread on Ace after your favorite line of the story in question. If you don’t turn in these materials BY MIDNIGHT, you will lose points.

 

Example of a good critique:

 

[TITLE OF STORY REMOVED] is primarily about a squeamish young man who dates an over-sized, sailor mouthed woman he meets in a bar. She is emotionally unavailable and taunts the boyfriend–who she nicknames Christopher Robbins–quite a bit, but in many instances Robbins interprets these gestures as tenderness and grows to love his female companion. He can’t leave well enough alone, however, and decides that he has to figure out her past–which he believes is connected to the sea. He takes her to a small boat off a dock in New York City and when pushed, Mary lies to him prompting CR to trick her into falling into the ocean. Then he sails away but remembers he can’t.

The principal strength of the story is the prose. It is quite beautiful in places and has a really sweet lyrical tendency despite the crazy subject matter and frequent cursing. The sentences move. Also, the character of Mary is quite strong. She’s an enigma to CR, and she’s an enigma to the reader. I don’t want her backstory, and I don’t think the writer should be talked into giving it to us. Mary is a puzzle inserted into fiction. She doesn’t need to be solved.

Christopher Robbins does not fare as well. I’m going to echo [NAME REMOVED]’s sentiments. We don’t know CR well enough and that makes some of the story fall relatively flat. When CR gives up his previous life to follow Mary everywhere it doesn’t have much impact because we have no idea what he’s giving up. Is he some little rich kid–he implies otherwise when Mary accuses him of having Harvard hands? Is he right out of college? Does he have some office job? Does he live in Hoboken and eat canned soup? We need the details of his life before-Mary to understand how his life post-Mary is so different and strange, and at times, wonderful.

Secondly, the story makes a big leap in logic when CR definitively decides that his girlfriend’s past is tied up with the sea. We need more concrete hints from Mary to buy into this. And why does he want to know about her past so much in the first place? Is he inherently an inquisitive person? Does he need to solve everything he comes across? Up until this point in the story, CR seemed so utterly passive. Why the change in demeanor? Also, the boat plot at the end seems a little half-baked. He thinks something terrible happened to his girlfriend at sea, so his solution is to tell her he has a surprise for her, then he brings her to a boat. That’s kind of crazy and out-of-character. It almost makes it seem like he’s getting back at her for all the little pot shots she’s taken but I don’t think that’s your intention. The final image of CR sailing away from Mary is a compelling ending, but it does not (yet) feel earned.

 

Distribution of Manuscripts

 

For your workshop, you must submit 15-22 pages of literary fiction the Wednesday before your stories are due by 3pm. I will release the workshop schedule after the first week of class when the student roster is locked. Please feel free to include any combination of short stories. For example, a single 17 page story is absolutely fine, as are 17 one page stories. The breakdown is up to you as long as you don’t dip below or above the 15-22 page limit.

If your story is late, your grade for that story will drop by an entire letter. If you are more than a day late, you will get an F, no exceptions. Once you upload your manuscript, you CANNOT EDIT IT FOR ANY REASON. If you do, we will skip your workshop and you will take an F. You are responsible for printing out your peers’ stories for discussion on workshop days. Reduced grades will count toward the final grade. Also, please include page numbers.

 

Notes About Workshop

 

When you are being workshopped, it is very important that you are quiet, take notes, and do not respond to anything verbally. To reiterate, you are not allowed to talk when being workshopped unless I specifically ask you something, and that will be very rare. You are not there to defend your story. Your story must stand on its own.

Please proofread your work. If a story is excessively sloppy, I will not workshop it. Do not depend on your classmates to fix your grammar.

 

ACE Takeaway Posts

 

Before we discuss a story you must post a 500-750 word Takeaway Post on ACE under the appropriately titled forum. Posts must be uploaded by midnight the day before we discuss the work. If your post is late, you will lose points. Post your responses on the appropriate Ace forum. There’s a forum designated by name for every professional piece of writing.

Let me be very clear on this. This is not a forum for you to explain whether or not you like the piece in question. I don’t care. What I’m looking for is what you can take away for your own writing. Every piece of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction has something to teach us as writers, something we can take for our own writing. Whether you like or dislike a piece of outside writing is beside the point in this class. If you simply talk about why you love or hate a specific piece of writing, you will take an F on the Takeaway Post in question.

In addition to what you took away from the published piece as a writer, I want you to provide three questions for the class related to craft. I don’t want you asking plot questions or questions about why a story is so bad or so good, but questions meant to stimulate discussions of craft related to the story. Your three questions will count toward your word count.

Below is a truncated example of a good Takeaway Post:

 

Don Lee’s “The Price of Eggs in China” provides a great example of keeping characters consistent. They’re unique characters, I think, but they’re always consistent.

Dean is a devoted, committed boyfriend. No matter how Caroline treats him, he wants to be with Caroline. He wants to help her when she’s sick, even though she’s broken up with him. He wants to help her with the problem with Marcella.

Caroline is consistently just kind of mean and crazy. She seems to have no filter on what she says…as made obvious when she says “This is what it’s come down to, this is how far I’ve sunk. I’m about to fuck a Nipponese fire hydrant with the verbal capacity of tap water,” and again when she responds with “yikes” to Dean’s declaration of love.

One of the good things to learn from this story, though, is that we see a mean character who is not evil, only evil, all we see is evil. I know that’s something I had a problem with in my last workshop story–that the character was just mean, and rude, and no one could understand why the main character was friends with her. In this story, you see Caroline’s vulnerable side. You see her vulnerable side when she starts getting sicker due to a stalker who is leaving her death threats. Though this sympathy is kind of taken away when it’s suggested she might have sent herself the death threats, you still see the vulnerable side. The side that is not completely mean/evil. She also transforms at the end when she becomes a mother, and although we do not see her in that role, it is described in the narration. I think this was a really good story to help show a way to fix the problem that a lot of us are having with writing a completely “evil,” one-sided character.

1) How is “The Price of Eggs in China” different from what we typically think of as mystery fiction?

2) How is it similar to what we typically think of as mystery fiction?

3) How does “The Price of Eggs in China” manage to achieve a satisfying ending without revealing the truth behind the mystery?

 

Genre Fiction

 

All of our discussions in this class will center on literary fiction. If you’re here to work on your vampire zombie spaceship novel, this class is not a good outlet for that kind of work. I’m expecting you to produce character driven literary fiction that drives toward emotional complexities. I don’t want to see battle scenes between elves and warlocks, young adult work, etc.. Your stories can be wacky, your stories can be strange (look to George Saunders or any other published fiction we read in this course for examples), but this class will never focus on straight genre fiction, and you will be expected to write literary fiction.

 

Novels

 

Primarily, we will be focusing on short fiction in this course. However, for your second workshop, you may choose to submit a novel chapter if you provide me with a four page outline of your entire novel in addition to a 15-22 page opening BEFORE uploading your work to ACE.
Conferences

 

After your workshops, I will schedule a mandatory conference with you during my office hours to discuss your work and provide feedback. Please remember: my door is always open, and I want to help you become a better writer.

 

Twitter

 

Over the last decade, social media hasbecome one of the best sources for writers to stay up-to-date on the latest books, literary journals, presses, reading series, and writers. This semester, you will be asked to enter into that world. You will be required to sign up for Twitter—however, feel free to keep your tweets protected if you’re so inclined—and each week you will follow five new literary journals, presses, reading series, or writers. Every Friday by 5pm, you will post which five accounts you’ve followed on the Twitter forum on Ace. Please feel free to follow accounts other students have found. Pay attention to whom and what other writers and journals tweet about. They’ll often discuss new writers and journals for you to discover.

 

Book Reviews

 

Over the course of the semester, you will be required to write two 500-1000 word book reviews chosen from the list of books I’ll recommend to you during your individual conferences. These are the only books you’ll be required to obtain over the course of the semester. We will talk about this more in depth as this semester goes on.

 

Outside Events

 

Students will be required to attend five readings outside of our class. You must attend the Roxane Gay Kellogg Writers series event in addition to two student hosted readings—more about that soon—along with two readings of your choice. To become an active literary citizen, you must actually engage with writers in our community. That means going to readings. Below are some options available to you, but I’ll approve other readings if you know of them. In addition to attending the readings, you must write a 100 word review of each event and post them to Ace. Keep in mind, readings are huge opportunities. Don’t treat these as burdens. I encourage you to go to all of the readings happening this fall.

Kellogg Writers Series (http://www.uindy.edu/arts/kellogg-writers-series)
Vouched (http://vouchedbooks.com/)
Word Lab (http://www.meetup.com/IndyWordLab/)
Indy Reads (http://indyreadsbooks.org/)
Service Center (https://www.facebook.com/servicecenterindy)
Butler University’s Delbrook Visiting Writers Series (http://www.butler.edu/mfa-creative-writing/delbrook-series/)
Hosted Reading

Once this semester, you will be required to team up with another student from our class to host a reading similar to the five you will attend on your own. At said reading, you will bring together a UIndy student writer of your choice—not yourself—with a local, established writer. Below, I’ve provided a list of venues in addition to a list of local writers who might be interested in headlining such an event. Please check out the venues beforehand and the work of the writers in question. Find someone you’re interested in, and when you do, contact me with your idea for the venue, headlining writer, and student writer. From there, I will put you in contact with the necessary people. You will be asked to promote said event via social media or other methods you’re comfortable with. You will also need to introduce both readers to the crowd at the event. Once an event is approved, those writers will be taken off the board of available readers.

 

Possible Venues:

 

Indy Reads (Mass Ave)
Indiana Writers Center (Broad Ripple)
The Wheeler Arts Community (Fountain Square)
The Service Center (Lafayette Road)
University of Indianapolis Schwitzer Building
University of Indianapolis Good Hall

 

Possible Writers:

[REMOVED]

 

Public Reading

 

At the end of the course, all students will be required to give a public reading of their work. This will take place during class time and other students and faculty will be invited to the reading. The reading will be livestreamed on the internet at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/uindy-lit.

 

Final Portfolios

 

You will receive preliminary grades for both of your workshop pieces that are not factored into your final grades and instead are meant as guideposts to where you work is before it is substantially revised over the course of the semester. At the end of the course, you will be expected to turn in a polished portfolio of your substantially revised workshop pieces that uses the feedback provided by me in addition to comments from your peers. An unwillingness to revise will result in automatic failure.

 

Grading Breakdown

 

Final Portfolio 50%
In-Class/Ace Participation 35%
Literary Citizenship (Readings, Book Reviews) 15%

 

Technology

 

Turn off all cell phones, laptops, tablets, and whatever else is invented before this semester ends BEFORE class begins. If, at any point during class, you look at any of this technology, you will be marked absent. I will not disrupt class. You will just be automatically marked absent. Don’t check your phones if you want to pass this class. Don’t look at the readings on phones and laptops. Print them out.

 

Attendance

 

If you miss class five times, you will fail. There will be no make up assignments. The ONLY excuses I will accept are doctor’s excuses or some kind of family emergency.

You should always be on time for class. If you are late, you will not get credit for attending an entire class.

If you are unprepared for discussion or workshop, I cannot give you credit for attendance that day.

 

Note

 

The syllabus is subject to change. I will only push assignments and readings back however. No assignment will ever be due earlier than it’s listed here.

 

Special Assistance

 

If you have a disability that may have some impact on your work in this class and for which you may require accommodations, please inform me immediately so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. Students with a disability must register with the Services for Students with Disabilities office (SSD) in Schwitzer Center 206 (317-788-6153 / http://www.uindy.edu/ssd) for disability verification and for determination of reasonable academic accommodations. You are responsible for initiating arrangements for accommodations for tests and other assignments in collaboration with the SSD and the faculty.

 

Plagiarism

 

Intellectual theft, like any other kind of theft, is a crime, and is especially dangerous on a college campus. Plagiarism is defined as any use of another person’s thoughts or words as your own. I don’t expect to see plagiarism in this class, and if I do each case will be dealt with on an individual basis, but the MINIMUM penalty will be failure for the assignment in question. Failing the entire course is not out of the question. If you are doing research and are unsure how to incorporate someone else’s work into your own in a valid manner, please ask—I’ll be more than happy to help you out so that there’s no danger of confusion.

 

Week One
August 26
Syllabus and Introductions
AD Jameson “Seven Movie Reviews”
Writing Goals
Prompt

August 28
Anton Chekhov “The Lady with the Pet Dog”
Sam Martone “Last Tour”
Social Media Overview
Prompt

Week Two
September 4
Dennis Johnson “Emergency”
Amber Sparks “You Will Be The Living Equation”
Prompt

Week Three
September 9
Rick Moody “The Apocalyptic Commentary of Bob Paisner”
Hosted Reading Overview
Prompt

September 11
Alice Munro “The Progress of Love”
Karissa Chen “The Emperor’s Malady”
Prompt

Week Four
September 16
Workshop 1
Workshop 2

September 18
Workshop 3
Mike Meginnis “Navigators”

Week Five
September 23
Workshop 4
Workshop 5

September 25
Workshop 6
Revision Overview

Week Six
September 30
Workshop 7
Workshop 8

October 2
Workshop 9
Book Review Overview

Week Seven
October 7
ZZ Packer “Dayward”
SKYPE WITH WRITER

October 9
Mini-Revisions

Week Eight
October 16
Donald Barthelme “Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowning”
SKYPE WITH WRITER

Week Nine
October 21
Cathy Day “Jennie Dixianna”
Jorge Luis Borges “The Garden of Forking Paths”
Prompt

October 23
John Cheever “The Swimmer”
Richard Yates “The Best of Everything”
Prompt

Week 10
October 28
Workshop 1
Workshop 2

October 30
Workshop 3
Roberto Bolano “Last Evenings on Earth”

Week 11
November 4
Workshop 4
Workshop 5

November 6
Workshop 6
Wells Tower “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned”

Week 12
November 11
Workshop 7
Workshop 8

November 13

Prompt

Week 13
November 18
TBA

November 20
Mini-Revisions

Week 14
November 25
Writer Visit

Week 15
December 2
Writer Visit

December 4
Public Reading

LAST CALL Makes Big Other’s Best of 2012 List

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I’m so humbled that Last Call in the City of Bridges made Big Other’s best books of 2012 list along with so many fantastic writers like Amelia Gray, Scott McClanahan, Robert Kloss, Gabriel Blackwell, Tim Horvath, Tara Laskowski, Matt Bell, James Tadd Adcox, xTx, and many others.

BEHOLD! THEIR PECULIAR AMBITIONS READING AT AWP!

INDIE LIT SUPER BOWL

Artifice, a Curbside Splendor Imprint, is Looking for Editors

We need:

– 2 content editors to help with choosing pieces for Artifice 6 and beyond

1 PR editor to manage our Facebook and Twitter accounts, pitch and coordinate events, and be the nice one

– 2 assistant editors to screen incoming submissions, stuff envelopes, and surprise us with freakish confidence and ability

Please send letters of interest along with any other material you think might boost your chances to jobs [at] artificemag [dot] com. As is the case with most small literary magazines, right now we can pay our editors only with love and respect and some free stuff.

Guys. This is a win/win for you. I love Curbside Splendor (have you read May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks?), and I adore Artifice (not going to name all my favorite pieces, but I will highlight work from Steve Gillies and Melissa Goodrich). If you’re looking to get serious editorial experience, this is the place.

You Should Buy May We Shed These Human Bodies

In these stories, Amber Sparks hits the sweet spot between cosmic and irreverence, between comic and philosophical. The title story, in which a group of former trees laments their newfound humanity, elucidates a number of familiar bodies and states, yet makes them seem dynamic. It doesn’t hurt that Sparks uses the first person plural very effectively — rendering a sense of community that’s both all-encompassing and yet somehow alien.

-Tobias Carroll reviews Amber Sparks’ May We Shed These Human Bodies in Vol. 1 Brooklyn

I’m reading this book right now. You should buy this book right now.

Fiction Writing Workshop or Don’t do it/Please don’t do it/Because if one us writes teen zombie erotica then we all go through it

The final syllabus I’m posting is for my Fiction Writing Workshop. It’s strange, but in two and a half years, I’ve taught variations of this course seven times. This is similar to the workshops I ran last spring with a few small changes. I added in a few more novel excerpts, namely Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!!. I’ve also added in required lit journal presentations. In addition to the lit journal overview I do, I’m having students present for 5-10 minutes on any lit journal of their choosing. The hope is that by the end of the presentations, each student will know seven more quality journals to read and possibly submit to. Irina Reyn did this in a graduate workshop once, and I found it extremely helpful. The biggest change is the focus on outside guests. In the past, I was barely able to scrounge up one guest a semester, as I had a lot of difficulty securing any funds at all (and by “difficulty,” I mean I got nothing). This time around, I was able to secure visits with Matt Bell, Chris Newgent, Chad Redden, Amber Sparks, and a skype conversation with Marty Pasko, a comics industry legend (he also won an Emmy for his work on Batman: The Animated Series which I LOVE). It’s always nice to get some other voices in the classroom. Matt, Amber, and Marty will hopefully bring a more national perspective, and Chris and Chad can explain to students how to get involved right here in Indianapolis.

Basically, I’ve never been more excited for anything ever.

FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP
MWF 1:00-1:50
University of Indianapolis
Assistant Professor Salvatore Pane
Office Hours: 10-11 MWF, 2-3 MW
Credits: 3.0

Required Materials

3X33: Short Fiction by 33 Writers, edited by Mark Winegardner

Welcome to Fiction Writing Workshop

In this course, you’re going to write and read a lot. You’ll produce short stories and flash fiction and possibly novel chapters, and along the way we’ll discuss the publishing industry, the internet blogging scene, and even have a few guest speakers. I’m not going to lie to you and say that writing is easy. It’s not. It’s one of the hardest things you can ever do. But, and I guarantee you this, if you’re serious about the craft of fiction, if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll absolutely be a better writer at the end of the course than you are today.

Each student will put up 8-15 pages of literary fiction for workshop twice a semester. You can write a traditional short story or multiple flash fiction pieces but remember, you have to demonstrate the fundamental principles of literary fiction in all of your workshop pieces. I want to see structure, character, development. I want nuance and complexity. I don’t want filler pieces meant to get you closer to the page requirement.

Substantial revisions will be required. Substantial revision does not mean fixing grammar. Substantial revision usually means a complete rewrite and perhaps multiple rewrites. Students must also post 300   -500 word critiques for every student story we workshop. Similarly, you will read a large amount of stories from 3X33 and a few handouts. Students will post 300-500 word craft analyses for every assigned story we read.

Reading so much literary fiction will allow you to build a library of published stories in your head. Students are expected to use their knowledge of writers like Barry Hannah, Lorrie Moore or A.M. Homes to comment about peer work up for discussion. Students will make parallels and use the published work to inform their critiques of peer work. The majority of the course will be spent workshopping. The goal of the course is for you to not only become a better writer, but to become an active literary citizen who can participate in the ongoing dialogue concerning fiction.

By the end of the course successful students will:

Use basic elements of craft (image, voice, character, setting, etc.) to create 16-30 pages of thoughtful literary fiction.

Employ critical-reading skills while analyzing, for specific issues of craft, a wide range of published and peer fiction.

Substantially revise their work by utilizing critical feedback generated by class discussion and written critiques.

Contribute thoughtful and complex commentary to discussions of published and peer fiction.

Workshop

You will be prepared for every workshop class by doing the following:

1.)   Write comments in the margins of stories up for discussion. You MUST use the comments feature in Microsoft Word. All comments will be transparent to the entire class. I want you to upload your marked up versions of workshopped stories to Ace. Failure to do so will negatively impact your grade. Also, DO NOT FORGET TO BRING A PRINT OUT OF THE STORY IN QUESTION TO CLASS. This is mandatory. If you don’t do this, I’ll shave points off your participation grade. If it becomes a consistent problem, I will mark you absent.

2.)   Write a 300-500 word critique for each peer written story we read this semester. You must critique the story based on its own intentions. For example, if the writer is attempting to write in the realist mode of Ray Carver, do not suggest adding a woman who has to eat a plate of hair ala Amelia Gray just because you don’t like realism. On the flip side, don’t knock an experimental story because you prefer realism. Judge the story the writer wrote, not the one you want to write. Try and help them see how they could better serve their material and unique world vision. In your responses, first describe what you think the writer is attempting to do and what the story is about. Then discuss the piece’s strengths. Finish with prescription, a section where you point out very specific things that still need work within the story. Go beyond grammar. Character, plot, prose, all the building blocks of fiction are on the table. You must use the description, strength, prescription model.

3.)   Post your critique and margin comments to Ace by 8PM the night before workshop. All critiques will be visible to all members of the class, and I encourage you to read what your peers are saying about every story. Name your thread on Ace after your favorite line of the story in question. If you don’t turn in these materials BY 8PM, you will lose points.  

Example of a good critique:

*NOTE: I removed this because it’s an actual critique of a student story

Notes About Workshop

When you are being workshopped, it is very important that you are quiet, take notes, and do not respond to anything verbally. To reiterate, you are not allowed to talk when being workshopped unless I specifically ask you something, and that will be very rare. You are not there to defend your story. Your story must stand on its own.

Please proofread your work. If a story is excessively sloppy, I will not workshop it. Do not depend on your classmates to fix your grammar.

Distribution of Manuscripts

Stories will be due from you exactly one full week before you’re scheduled to workshop. For example, if you’re scheduled to workshop on Monday, September 24th at 1pm, that means your story is due at 1pm Monday, September 17th. If your story is late, your grade for that story will drop by an entire letter. If you are more than a day late, you will get an F, no exceptions. Once you upload your manuscript, you CANNOT EDIT IT FOR ANY REASON. If you do, we will skip your workshop and you will take an F. You are responsible for printing out your peers’ stories for discussion on workshop days. Please include page numbers.

I have randomized the workshop schedule in order of fairness, but know that it will be reversed for the second round of workshops. So if you have to put up a story early in the semester for the first go around, you will have the most time to write for the second round of workshops.

Ace Reading Posts

On most weeks, you will be required to read at least one outside short story. On these weeks, you must post a 300-500 word craft analysis of said story on Blackboard under the appropriately titled forum. Posts must be uploaded by 8PM the day before we discuss the story. If your post is late, you will lose points. During weeks in which we will be discussing two professional short stories a classroom session, you are required to write two 200-300 word craft analyses each class session, one for each story we read. For flash fiction, you only need to write 100-200 words. Post your responses on the appropriate forum. There’s a forum designated by name for every professional story.

Let me be very clear on this. This is not a forum for you to explain whether or not you like the piece in question. I don’t care. What I’m looking for is a craft analysis. These stories are published. They’re not up for workshop. What can you learn from them? There is a huge difference between reading fiction as a general reader and reading fiction as a writer. It’s not about pleasure, it’s about bettering your craft. You need to look at outside stories and figure out what techniques you can use for your own writerly toolboxes. Perhaps you will learn how to implement time jumps in a narrative from “The Year of Getting to Know Us.” Perhaps you will learn about wacky settings from “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.” I want you writing about something that struck you in the professional stories and how you can apply those lessons to your own writing. If you simply talk about why you love or hate a specific story, you will take an F on the craft analysis in question. Below is an example of a good craft analysis:

UGH, this story is so good. It makes me mad that people write this well. It is hilarious but also menacingly sad. And the language and the pacing are so pitch perfect—I don’t think a single line falls flat.

When I first read this a while ago I laughed and thought it was just an interesting, painfully insightful look at being a writer. And although this is basically true, I don’t think the cleverness is the meat of the story, rather, a really superb misdirect.

Francie repeats herself, a lot. And I think when she does, it matters. There are a few recurring things. One is that her stories are mostly plotless, graphic violence, between old couples. The other issue that recurs with the most emotional weight is her brother going to Vietnam and coming back crippled.

In my mind, it’s also important to understand this story is being written as a reflection by Francie. And although the second-person perspective universalizes it, the story feels intensely personal (how wonderfully Moore treads that line!). Given that Francie is writing/telling this story, you can assume, like she says, it suffers in plot. Or more importantly, she doesn’t quite know what the plot is. Francie says “Later on in life you will realize that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real understanding of what they have written”.

Writing is seen as personal and reflective, but the problem is that reflecting on her life, she isn’t sure what is the actual story.

And I think that’s what I love most about this story. Moore writes a story about someone writing a story about what wasn’t actually the real story. The real story being, in my opinion, her parent’s divorce, her brother going to Vietnam, her decreasing spiral of demeaning relationships, as reflected in her writing.

The sentence, near the end being particularly indicative of the last point: “You now go out with men who, instead of whispering ‘I love you,” shout: ‘Do it to me, baby.’ This is good for your writing.”

And, had these ideas been explored independently, the story of a broken home, a Vietnam veteran, and a bad dating history, it would not feel terribly original. But to hide this sad, lonely story—to embed and obscure it through this wonderful analogy of struggled, filtered, reflection called writing—is really genius, I think.

Like she says about her brother, “you write nothing. There are no words for this. Your typewriter hums. You can find no words.” She can’t even begin to write about what is really the issue, only glance at it with something tangential like writing.

The method actually allows for some notes that play like Carver. Consider the above brief quotation about her brother. She writes nothing. It’s a short, not particularly engaging, sentence out of context. But considering how abrupt it is, considering how open and honest and rambling she was before, that line of silence is deafening. The context allows her to do so much with so little. I felt sadder for her brother in Vietnam than I did during all of “Platoon”. And Moore only mentioned him three times.

Fiction Buddies

After everyone has workshopped, I will break you up into groups of two—Fiction Buddies! You will meet during class time and read each other’s revisions and then run mini-workshops. I will explain more about Fiction Buddies when we reach that point in the semester.

Novels

Novels are wonderful. We love novels. Novels are why so many of us want to be writers.  But in a workshop setting, students often use first chapters as an excuse to not end their stories. They can avoid criticism by saying, “That happens in chapter two.” I’ve seen many, many talented writers produce thirty opening chapters in their undergraduate career, graduate, and have no idea how to sustain a middle or land an ending. I don’t want that to happen to you.

For the first workshop, I don’t want you to write a novel chapter. You can write a few pieces of flash fiction or a short story, but no chapters. For the second workshop, if you’re really serious about writing a novel, I want you to first provide me with a four page outline of the entire book. If given permission, you will put that AND an 8-10 page chapter up for workshop. I want to know you have a plan and that writing a chapter isn’t just a way out from writing an ending.

Genre Fiction

All of our discussions in this class will center on literary fiction. What is literary fiction? We will explore that as the semester goes on. The point is that if you’re here to work on your vampire zombie spaceship novel, this class is not a good outlet for that kind of work. I’m expecting you to produce character driven literary fiction that drives toward emotional complexities. I don’t want to see battle scenes between elves and warlocks. Your stories can be wacky, your stories can be strange (wait till you see the craziness of George Saunders!), but this class will never focus on straight genre fiction.

Classroom Etiquette

Turn off all cell phones before class begins. Do not text people during class. It’s really obvious when you’re doing this. If this becomes a problem I will shave points off your participation grade. If this becomes a consistent problem, I’ll mark you as absent.

Attendance

I want to be as clear as I can on this. If you miss class five times, you will fail. There will be no make up assignments. Don’t come back to class. The ONLY excuses I will accept are a doctor’s excuse or some kind of family emergency. I am not going to make any exceptions on this front.

You should always be on time for class. If you are late, you will not get credit for attending an entire class.

If you are unprepared for discussion or workshop, I cannot give you credit for attendance that day.

Grading

This is what you have to do if you want an A in this course. You have to put up two thoughtful workshop pieces. Then you have to take the time to substantially revise them. You have to be engaged in classroom discussions and add something relevant every class. You must do all the Ace posts and turn them in on time. You do all these things, you get an A. You slack off, turn work in late or short, doze off in class, and you’re not getting anything that even remotely resembles an A.

Here’s the grading breakdown. 70% of your final grade will come down to your final portfolio, i.e. all of your revised work at the end of the semester. The other 30% comes from participation and Ace posts. Please note: participation is mandatory. If you are not contributing to every single workshop, you are not going to get a good grade. This is a workshop course. The same goes for Ace. If you consistently fail to turn in work on time, you’re not going to get a good grade.

Final Portfolios

On the last day of class, you will be expected to turn in two revisions of your workshop pieces. Late portfolios WILL NOT be accepted. We’ll talk more about this as the semester goes on.

Conferences

After your first workshop, I will schedule a conference with you during my office hours. After your second workshop, please contact me and we can either set up an appointment to discuss your work or I can just send you your critique. I encourage you to meet with me in person, but this second conference is optional. Please remember: my door is always open.

Visitors

I have scheduled a number of visitors throughout the semester. Some run reading series or lit journals here in Indianapolis, others are national writers dropping by on tour, some will chat with us via Skype. I want you to be engaged in these discussions. Participate. These are very rare opportunities. Don’t squander them.

Outside Events

Students are required to attend one reading outside of class. The details will be announced, but you will have multiple opportunities to attend one, although I encourage you to go to them all. I sure will. These are opportunities, not burdens, and I hope you treat them that way.

You will be required to attend and write a short, 500 word craft analysis of one of these readings.

Literary Journal Presentations

Near the end of the course, you will be expected to give a very informal 5-10 minute presentation on a literary journal. Be prepared to discuss its aesthetics, who publishes in it, what the statistics are, and what its web presence is like among other things. We’ll discuss this in much greater detail as we get closer to the end of the course.

Note

The syllabus is subject to change. I will only push assignments and readings back however. No assignment will ever be due earlier than it’s listed here.

Course Sequence

Week One

Monday August 27
Syllabus
Justin Taylor “Tetris” HANDOUT

Wednesday August 29
John Updike “A&P” 3X33
Lorrie Moore “How to Become a Writer” 3X33

Friday August 31
Raymond Carver “Cathedral” 3X33
Alissa Nutting “Porn Star” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Two

Wednesday September 5
Donald Barthelme “The School” 3X33
Etgar Keret “Fatso” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Roxane Gay “The Harder They Come” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Amelia Gray “Hair” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Friday September 7
Breece D’J Pancake “Trilobytes” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Tobias Wolff “Bullet in the Brain” 3X33

Week Three

Monday September 10
Emma Straub “Pearls” COURSE DOCUMENTS
George Saunders “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” 3X33

Wednesday September 12
Scott Snyder “Blue Yodel” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” 3X33

Friday September 14
Barry Hannah “Testimony of Pilot” 3X33

Week Four

Monday September 17
WORKSHOP 1
WORKSHOP 2

Wednesday September 19
WORKSHOP 3
WORKSHOP 4

Friday September 21
Ethan Canin “The Year of Getting to Know Us” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Five

Monday September 24
WORKSHOP 5
WORKSHOP 6

Wednesday September 26
WORKSHOP 7
WORKSHOP 8

Friday September 28
Amber Sparks Visit

Week Six

Monday October 1
WORKSHOP 9
WORKSHOP 10

Wednesday October 3
Revision Lecture + “How to Be a Contemporary Writer” by Roxane Gay

Friday October 5
Publishing and Blogs Lecture

Week Seven

Monday October 8
Teddy Wayne Novel Excerpt of Kapitoil COURSE DOCUMENTS
Sara Levine Novel Excerpt of Treasure Island!!! COURSE DOCUMENTS

Wednesday October 10
Brian Oliu “Gradius” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Brian Oliu “Punch-Out!!” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Brian Oliu “Wizards and Warriors” COURSE DOCUMENTS
xTx “Water is Thrown on the Witch” COURSE DOCUMENTS
xTx “Marci is Going to Shoot Up Meth With Her Friend” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Friday October 12
A.M. Homes “The Former First Lady and the Football Hero” COURSE DOCUMENTS
James Alan McPherson “Why I Like Country Music” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Eight

Wednesday October 17
Fiction Buddies

Friday October 19
Chris Newgent Visit

Week Nine

Monday October 22
WORKSHOP 1
WORKSHOP 2

Wednesday October 24
WORKSHOP 3
WORKSHOP 4

Friday October 26
Class Cancelled

Week Ten

Monday October 29
WORKSHOP 5
WORKSHOP 6

Wednesday October 31
WORKSHOP 7
WORKSHOP 8

Friday November 2
Patrick Somerville “The Universe in Miniature in Miniature” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Eleven

Monday November 5
WORKSHOP 9
WORKSHOP 10

Wednesday November 7
MFA Program and Book Review Lecture

Friday November 9
Jonathan Lethem “Super Goat Man” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Twelve

Monday November 12
Don Lee “The Price of Eggs in China” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Seth Fried “Loeka Discovered” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Wednesday November 14
Junot Diaz “Fiesta, 1980” 3X33
Matt Bell “His Last Great Gift” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Friday November 16
Matt Bell Visit

Week Thirteen

Monday November 19
Fiction Buddies

Week Fourteen

Monday November 26
Lit Journal Presentations

Wednesday November 28
TBA

Friday November 30
Chadwick Redden Visit

Week Fifteen

Monday December 3
TBA

Wednesday December 5
TBA

Friday December 7
Final Portfolios Due

I’M READING IN INDIANAPOLIS WITH EVERYONE

This reading really got out of hand fast. What started out as a simple “book release party for Amber Sparks”/”welcome to Indy for Sal Pane” escalated into an all out literary brawl with the addition of Lania Knight, and the REAL PAIN: FUTURE DEAD FRIENDS TOUR 2012 making a stop with Scott McClanahan, Sam Pink, Megan Boyle, Jordan Castro, and Mallory Whitten. This line-up is a literary powerhouse that could generate electricity for a small city.

Join us at the new Indy Reads Books store at the very north end of Mass Ave., and pack your brain full of words and moments you won’t want to forget. And, maybe some you’ll want to forget. Let’s be honest. Nights like these have a way of breeding regrets alongside remembrances.

Readers Recap:
Amber Sparks
Sal Pane
Lania Knight
Scott McClanahan
Sam Pink
Megan Boyle
Jordan Castro
Mallory Whitten

This is happening September 29th at 7pm. You better be there. The gauntlet has been thrown.

 

#KanyeWestSavedFromDrowning

This September, NAP Magazine is releasing my very first chapbook #KanyeWestSavedFromDrowning. We’ll be launching the book at a Vouched reading in Indianapolis with Amber Sparks and Lania Knight, but it’ll be available online as well. Last night, epic editor Chadwick Redden sent me this early mock up of the cover. BEHOLD!

2012 Off Site AWP Guide

The best part about AWP is the nightlife. The panels are exciting, but hanging out with all the people you’ve been reading for the last year and sharing a beer is really where it’s at. This year is no different. The list below is what I’m most excited about from the official AWP site. I’m sure there are other high quality events, but I just don’t have time to track them all down across Facebook. If you know of one, PLEASE add it to the comments section. I’ve marked the events I’m reading at in blue so that if you want to specifically avoid running into me in Chi-town, you can.

SEE YOU ALL SOON, BROS!

Wednesday

7:00PM Monster Mags of the Midwest Reading
Location: Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 North Sheffield
Cost: Free
Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, and Ninth Letter team up once again to offer a fabulous off-site reading. Please come see Mary Biddinger, Brock Clarke, Matthew Gavin Frank, Michael Robins, Laura Van den Berg, and Keith Lee Morris at Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 North Sheffield, located directly across the street from Wrigley Field (and the Harry Caray statue).

8:00PM AWP 2012 CHICAGO KICK OFF PARTY
Location: The Empty Bottle – 1444 W. Chicago
Cost: free with rsvp (email rsvp@emptybottle.com with “AWP Party” in subject line & full name of attendee in body of email.)
Website: http://dogzplotnews.blogspot.com/2011/10/awp-2012-chicago-kick-off-party.html
Kick-off AWP 2012, Chicago-style, at Chicago’s iconic live music club, The Empty Bottle, with readings, party, mayhem, bands… Music by James Greer (of Guided by Voices) and special guests, Mutts, and more. Readers include Jeff Parker, Michael Czyzniejewski, James Greer, xTx, Sam Pink, Jamie Iredell, Mary Miller, Sarah Sweeney, Michael Kimball, Amber Sparks, Peter Schwartz, Mike Young, Ben Tanzer, Sarah Rose Etter, and others.

Thursday

6:15PM-8:15PM How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Web
Location: After-Words Bookstore 23 E. Illinois Street, Chicago Illinois
Cost: Free
Join Drunken Boat, Memorious, failbetter.com, Blackbird, and Midway Journal for night of worry free, poetry and prose! Come hear authors Michael Martone, Randall Brown, Sean Hill, Margaret Luongo, Nicky Beer, Erica Dawson, Caki Wilkinson, Daniel Nester, Sibyl Baker, Michelle Chan Brown, and Shira Dentz. After Words Books is walking distance from the AWP Conference Event Hotel, and is a straight shot down State Street, just off the corner of State Street and Illinois Street.

7:00PM Convocation in Chicago
Location: Beauty Bar
Cost: Free
PANK, Annalemma, and Mud Luscious will once again host a holy meeting of literary minds. Convocation in Chicago will feature performances by Scott McClanahan, Daiva Markelis, Jac Jemc, Robb Todd, Sal Pane, Brian Oliu, Aubrey Hirsch, Matt Bell, xTx, Chris Newgent, Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, Casey Hannan, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Brandi Wells, Doug Paul Case, Ryan Bradley, Myfanwy Collins, Sarah Rose Etter, Laura Ellen Scott, Molly Laich, and Allyson Boggess.

7:00PM Joyland and Dzanc present Fiction Feed: Chicago Edition
Location: Quimby’s Bookstore,1854 W. North Ave · Chicago, IL 60622 · 773-342-0910
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.joylandmagazine.com
Joyland Magazine and Dzanc Books are two innovative publishers pushing fiction with great writing and new means of print and digital distribution. Join us for an evening with Eugene Cross, Kevin Chong, Jeff Parker, and Megan Stielstra reading from recently released books.

7:00PM-9:00PM Celebration of the Small Press: FLeng Rising
Location: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery – Downtown Chicago
Cost: FREE
Website: http://www.rockbottom.com/Chicago
Florida English and the Rising in Hope Anthology team up for this event featuring Brian Dickson, Jeff Grieneisen, Kirk Nesset, Jesse Millner, Heather Schmidt, Jen Stewart. The first 15 to arrive receive a free drink (see Courtney for your drink ticket).

7:00PM-11:00PM This is beautiful, this is beautiful; six small presses
Location: Simone’s Bar, 960 W 18th St.
Cost: Free
Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/174394975997326/
An offsite AWP reading hosted by 6 small presses: Bateau, Burnside Review, Interrupture, Rose Metal Press, Slope Editions and Versal. Readers include: John Gallaher, Brooklyn Copeland, Sean Lovelace, Chuck Carlise, Louise Mathias, Ryan Flaherty, Anna Moriarty Lev, Jane Lewty, Erin Costello, Nate Liederbach, Amaranth Borsuk, Trey Moody/Joshua Ware, John Jodzio, Kate Nuernberger and Brad Liening. The event is free and open to the public. Full bar! Food! Come!

7:30PM Black Lawrence Press/Devil’s Lake Reading
Location: Salud Tequila Lounge
Cost: FREE
Please join Devil’s Lake and Black Lawrence Press for a great night at our co-hosted reading! We’re proud to feature: Mary Biddinger, Jon Chopan, Lisa Fay Coutley, Brent Goodman, Casey Thayer, and Joe Wilkins. Come early to partake in the open bar.

7:30PM An Evening of Poetry with Cat, Dog & Hamster Quarterly
Location: Black Rock, 3614 N. Damen Ave.
Cost: Free
Join us for readings by Jason Bredle, Melissa Broder, Arda Collins, Jason Koo, Marc McKee and James Shea. Sponsored by Cat, Dog & Hamster Quarterly.

8:00PM-10:00PM The Wrong Kind of Reading
Location: The Galway Arms, Lincoln Park (2442 North Clark Street)
Cost: Free
A reading from seven “literary pulp” writers–lots of genre thrills. Featuring Pinckney Benedict, Kyle Minor, Robin Becker, Anthony Neil Smith, John Weagly, Nikki Dolson, and David James Keaton. Loosely affiliated with noir/transgressive ezine PLOTS WITH GUNS.

8:30PM-10:30PM Gulf Coast & Indiana Review Give You a Reading with Writers We Love
Location: Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 South Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605
Cost: $4 suggested donation
Website: http://www.gulfcoastmag.org, http://indianareview.org
Join Gulf Coast and Indiana Review for an evening of readings by Michael Czyzniejewski, Ross Gay, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Leslie Parry, and D.A. Powell. at Buddy Guy’s Legends (just around the block from Hilton Chicago & Palmer House Hilton)!

9:00PM-2:00AM AWP 2012 Karaoke Idol
Location: Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.curbsidesplendor.com/index.php?id=237
After readings and other literary events, presses from Chicago and beyond will battle for the AWP 2012 Karaoke Idol throne, followed by Karaoke-dance party. Karaoke Idol Judges: Amy Guth, Joe Meno, and Patrick Sommerville. Presented by Another Chicago Magazine (ACM), Artifice Mag, Curbside Splendor, Featherproof Books — contestants, more info to come…

9:00PM-12:00AM OPEN BAR SPEAKEASY BLOWOUT: The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Hopkins Review, Barrelhouse, Entasis, Baltimore Review, Dark Sky
Location: Brando’s Speakeasy, 343 South Dearborn.
Cost: Free
Website: http://thedoctortjeckleburgreview.com/
Edgy readings and fun prizes erupt around 10 p.m. when Barrelhouse, Dark Sky, The Baltimore Review, DC’s Entasis Press, and The Hopkins Review join up to launch The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review from Johns Hopkins. Free beer and wine, cash martini bar, tasty snacks, saucy behavior, prizes, and worthy-cause raffles, with the Hopkins M.A. in Writing Program as host. Our AWP-easy location is midway between the Hilton and Palmer House, so come join us after the keynote!

9:00PM Propaganda: a reading
Location: Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph (Halsted & Randolph) – in the Drinking & Writing Theater
Cost: free
Website: http://www.propagandareading.com
Three to five minutes of propaganda from: Matt Bell, Jessica Anya Blau, Blake Butler, Alexandra Chasin, Molly Gaudry, Amelia Gray, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc, Stephen Knezovich, Samuel Ligon, Robert Lopez, Nelly Reifler, Joseph Salvatore, Jason Sommer, Matthew Vollmer, and Jess Walter.

9:00PM-10:00PM (and beyond) Wag’s Revue and Unstuck Host a Reading and Get Frisky Like Granny
Location: Cole’s Bar – 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60647
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.wagsrevue.com
Make your last stop Thursday night Cole’s in Logan Square. The reading will be hosted by the Chicago-based, online-only literary quarterly Wag’s Revue and the hot and brand new Unstuck Magazine out of Austin. There’ll be just four readers–Noam Dorr, Dylan Nice, Rachel Swirsky and Julia Whicker. Then, at 10:00, DJ Frisky Grannies will be playing some hits from the 20s and 50s. So stick around, drink some of the fine brews on tap like Allagash White and Bell’s Two Hearted and get frisky. Granny wouldn’t go home just because she’s tired. She’d get drunk and listen to some readers and she’d dance. So come on. Do it for granny.

Friday

5:00PM-6:30PM ASF and NER Take AWP
Location: Delilah’s, 2771 N. Lincoln Ave.
Cost: FREE
Website: http://www.americanshortfiction.org
American Short Fiction and New England Review join forces to create a supersized, rollicking happy hour reading at the best whiskey bar in all of Chicago. ASF supplies the foxy fiction writers, including Kevin Moffett, Jamie Quatro, Eugene Cross, and Laura van den Berg; and NER brings along wily, wily poets with names like Traci Brimhall, Eduardo C. Corral, and Tomas Q. Morin. Come warm up with words, whiskey, and wise ol’ lit mags.

6:00PM-8:00PM Come on, Seven!
Location: School of the Art Institute of Chicago Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan
Cost: free
Seven of the leading risk-takers of the fiction avant-garde are betting you will love what they read from their works because baby needs a new pair of shoes! Yuriy Tarnawsky, Lidia Yuknavitch, Lance Olsen, Davis Schneiderman, Adam D. Jameson, James R. Hugunin, and Eckhard Gerdes. Organized by Eckhard Gerdes, Editor and Publisher, the Journal of Experimental Fiction and JEF Books. Sponsored by Writing Program, SAIC.

6:00PM Beecher’s – Parcel Happy Hour Reading
Location: Manhattan’s Bar – 415 S Dearborn St
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.beechersmag.com/
Beecher’s and Parcel, two sweet, young, little lit magazines invite you to come enjoy happy hour drinks, free pizza and a great line-up of readers in Chicago’s oldest skyscraper. This fast-paced event, just a few blocks from the conference hotel, will include readings by: Rebecca Evanhoe, Jenny Gropp Hess, Lincoln Michel, Scott Wrobel, James Yeh, and Nick Courtright. For more information about the lit magazines, please visit: http://www.beechersmag.com/ & http://www.parcelmag.org/

7:00PM-9:00PM Burnt Bridge & Flywheel Magazine Reading
Location: Billy Goat Tavern, 430 N. Michigan Ave
Cost: FREE
Website: http://burntbridge.net
Burnt Bridge & Flywheel Magazine will be holding an off-site reading at the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago. The reading will be graciously hosted by our good friends The Billy Goat Tavern on Michigan Ave. Attendees or general Chicago dwellers are invited to come out from 7-9 and hear some literary grit hurled unceremoniously at their ears. We’re told the food is good, too.

7:00PM Stymie Magazine Presents: A Really Big Show
Location:Theory Sport.Dine.Lounge; 9 W. Hubbard
Cost: FREE
Stymie Mag is coming to AWP 2012 and we’re throwing a party, or at least a reading with words, beverages, and good times at Theory Sports Lounge. We couldn’t be more excited and hope you are too (and that you’ll mark the date/time on what we’re sure is an already busy AWP calendar)!

Featuring:
Cynthia Hawkins, Tim Kahl, Jeanie Chung, James O’Brien, Lauren Becker, Alex Moody, Steven Kowalski, Joseph Baron-Pravda, Diane Durant McGurren, Shaindel Beers, Sal Pane, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Joe Ponepinto, J. Bradley, Megan Cass, Elijah Burrell, Ilan Mochari, Tyler Gobble, Mark Cugini, and Maria Nazos

7:00PM-10:00PMBeautiful, Words
Location: Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.curbsidesplendor.com/curbside/blog/beautiful-words-awp-2012-event
Readings by: Kim Addonizio, Kate Zambreno, Vanessa Veselka, Greg Olear, Stacy Bierlein, Michael Cyzniejewski, David Galef, Tod Goldberg, Jonathan Evison, Shannon Cason. Sponsored by: The Nervous Breakdown, Other Voices Books, Bookslut, Red Lemonade, Dzanc Books, Curbside Splendor, Emergency Press, Elephant Rock Books, University of California-Riverside MFA program, Sunday Salon Chicago. Live music by Rob Roberge and Vanessa Veselka, and live DJ.

7:00PM This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Location: The Horseshoe, 4115 N. Lincoln Avenue
Cost: free
Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/203462383031095/
As we are unbeholden to any particular school, method, or ideology, the one constant for this reading is each participant’s unique kick-assness. Readers so far scheduled include Fred Arroyo, Sarah Barber, Shaindel Beers, Jesse Bradley, Sarah Carson, Larry O. Dean, Margie Flanagan-Wilkie, Nathan Floom, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, Anna March, Daniel Nester, Brianna Pike, Erika L. Sánchez, Mark Statman, Elissa Schappell, Ben Tanzer, Meg Tuite, Robert Vaughan, Chet Weise, Snezana Zabic, and Cindy Zelman, with more TBA. Immediately following will be music from The Injured Parties, Khalid Hanifi, and Decoy Prayer Meeting. The venue has a menu that includes food and drink. Come early, stay late!

7:00PM McSweeney’s AWP Party and Poetry Imprint Launch
Location: 826 Chicago
Cost: FREE
Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/275318479190753/
Come celebrate the launch of our poetry imprint in a four-part reading. We’re featuring poets Matthea Harvey (Of Lamb, Spring 2011) and Rebecca Lindenberg whose collection, Love: An Index, is kicking off the McSweeney’s Poetry series. Also Adam Levin, author of the Instructions will be reading from his forthcoming short-story collection, Hot Pink and Tom Barbash, McSweeney’s Issue 39 contributor.

7:00PM Literary Death Match — AWP Special
Location: Buddy Guy’s Legends
Cost: $5 advance/$10 door
Website: http://www.literarydeathmatch.com/upcoming-events/march-2-2012-at-awp.html
Doty! Smiley! Strauss! Jackson! To celebrate our 200th episode at Buddy Guy’s Legends, we’re teaming with Versal and Painted Bride Quarterly for Literary Death Match: Journal Porn Edition at AWP, and we’ve assembled the most colossally-awarded lineup of literary superstars ever to participate in a LDM ever before. Other plans? Cancel them. This is going to be a sexy-literary-comedic night to remember

7:00PM-10:00PM Sixth Finch and YesYes Books reading
Location: Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts (1104 South Wabash, 2nd Floor)
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.facebook.com/events/198506656912495/
In conjunction with CPBA’s “Poems and Pictures” exhibit. Reception at 7 PM, followed by a reading at 8 PM featuring Emily Kendal Frey, Ally Harris, Matt Hart, Mark Leidner, Thomas Patrick Levy, Ben Mirov, Metta Sama, Nate Slawson, Leigh Stein, Gale Marie Thompson, Phillip B. Williams, Angela Veronica Wong and Matthew Yeager. Only two blocks from the conference.

8:00PM Literature Party
Location: Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln Avenue
Cost: $10.00
Website: http://literatureparty.com/
A night of literature and party benefiting Young Chicago Authors. With literature from Dorothea Lasky, Mary Miller and Tim Kinsella, and a special performance by Jesse Ball accompanied by puppeteers Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood. Hosted by Zach Dodson and Lindsay Hunter. Bookstore by Vouched. Sponsored by School of the Art Institute of Chicago Writing Program, Bookforum, featherproof, Hobart, HTMLGiant, The Lit Pub, Publishing Genius, and Wave Books. See literatureparty.com

9:30PM-12:00AM Literary High Jinx
Location: Brando’s Speakeasy, 343 S. Dearborn St., Chicago (historic South Loop)
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.brandoschicago.com
Literary loons and AWP marauders, unite! Patasola Press and Atticus Books join indie forces to present a spirited night of reading high jinx, complete with quirky novelists, saucy poets, brainy sirens, and devious wordsmiths in a slick, private upstairs bar. Rae Bryant, Steve Himmer, Dave Housley, John Minichillo, J.A. Tyler and other underground small press sensations are on hand to incite sentence riots and more.

Saturday

1:00PM TJY & The Actionettes
Location: Multikulti, 1000 N Milwaukee Ave
Cost: $5 suggested
Website: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/219588
Sponsored by Action Yes! and Red Lightbulbs, an afternoon of queer, feminist, gurlesque & grotesque literary performance featuring kitschy, campy, glamorous and otherwise unruly bodies & texts, starring Kate Durbin, Ji Yoon Lee, Carina Finn, Meghan Lamb and Tim Jones-Yelvington.

3:00PM-5:00PM Woman Made Gallery Welcomes Women Who Write: Strong Words, Strong Voices
Location: Woman Made Gallery, 685 N Milwaukee Ave
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.womanmade.org/poetry.html
This year, Woman Made Gallery celebrates 20 years of supporting the creative endeavors of women around the world. Literature has been prominently featured among gallery programs, including poetry readings, often organized around the themes of the concurrent art exhibit. Honoring Women’s History Month, we bring together five seasoned poets with distinctive voices, vision and presence: Kim Addonizio, Brenda Cardenas, Nina Corwin, Patricia Spears Jones and Patricia Smith. The reading will be followed by a conversation and celebration hosted by six prominent women’s literary organizations from around the country.

4:00PM-6:00PM Many Mountains Moving Press Reading
Location: Gage Gallery, Roosevelt University
Cost: free to all
Website: http://www.mmminc.org/html/events/events_new.htm
Another terrific lineup from MMM: Anne-Marie Cusac, Renato Rosaldo, Patrick Lawler, Jeffrey Ethan Lee, as well as Scott Blackwood, and the Creative Writing Program. A beautiful large space within walking distance of the conference hotels at 18 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Il.

5:00PM-6:30PM Mixer/Paper Darts Last Chance Happy Hour
Location: The Beauty Bar, 1444 West Chicago Avenue
Cost:
Mixer and Paper Darts team up to present an epic reading/sendoff on the final night of AWP. Swing by the Beauty Bar and dip your callused and brittle hands in a luxurious wax bath while you hear the likes of Amelia Gray, Tom Bonfiglio, John Jodzio, Chelsea Martin, Edward Trefts and Anne Yoder.

6:00PM-9:00PM Ear Eater #13: The Impossible, The Extraordinary
Location: Beef & Brandy, 127 S. State Street
Cost: FREE
Website: http://eareater.tumblr.com/post/16833972149/ear-eater-13-awp-edition
Join Us for Ear Eater #13: The Impossible, The Extraordinary! ALL-STAR CAST: Amelia Gray: (Author of AM/PM (Featherproof Books) and Museum of the Weird (FC2). Her first novel, THREATS, is due March 2012 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.); Vanessa Place: (Writer, lawyer, and co-director of Les Figues Press. She is the author of Dies: …A Sentence (2006), La Medusa (FC2, 2008), and The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality, and Law (2010); Kevin Sampsell: (Author of the short story collections Beautiful Blemish and Creamy Bullets. He is the editor of The Insomniac Reader and Portland Noir. His newest book is A Common Pornography: A Memoir. He runs the micropress, Future Tense Books); Adam Robinson: (Adam Robinson lives in Baltimore, where he operates Publishing Genius Press. He is the author of Adam Robison and Other Poems, (Narrow House Books, (2010). More info at the EAR EATER site http://eareater.tumblr.com/post/16833972149/ear-eater-13-awp-edition

7:00PM-9:00PM Before We Go
Location: Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.facebook.com/events/371496909532464/
Presented by Big Lucks, Gigantic Sequins, Knee-Jerk, Magic Helicopter, and Rose Metal Press. Readings from Amanda Auchter Jason Bredle, Adam Drent, Loren Erdich, Adam Golaski, Christie Ann Reynolds, Matthew Siegel, Justin Sirois, Jordan Stempleman, and Ben Tanzer.

Fall 2011 Fiction Recommendations

One of my favorite aspects of teaching is recommending fiction to students. There’s almost nothing better than reading a student story and thinking, “This person absolutely needs to read Lorrie Moore!” Matching students with their established counterparts is an integral and rewarding part of the job. I vividly remember being an undergrad creative writer and going to meet with Tom Bailey or Gary Fincke. Their office shelves were lined with books, most of which I’d never heard of. They’d go over my drafts with me and then list off three or four writers I had to read right that very second. Most times, I’d walk straight to the library and take out every last book they recommended. Reading everything I could get my hands on helped me develop as a writer, and I try really hard to pass that enthusiasm on to my students.

That being said, I’ve decided to again share every fiction recommendation I’ve given out this semester. This term I taught two fiction workshops, one at the University of Pittsburgh and another at Chatham University. In total, there were 33 students, meaning 66 workshops and individual conferences. The same ground rules I set forth last spring still apply. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the writers I teach. In fact, most of the writers on this list don’t show up in my syllabus. I recommended them because students put up work that was in conversation with these established writers. There was something to be learned there, something we might not have covered in the classroom or maybe not in enough detail. Some of the writers who appear the most often were in the syllabus, and I kept recommending other work by them to remind students of the lessons we’d learned throughout the semester. And literary journals! There are a bunch of literary journals at the bottom of the list. I want all of my students to become active literary citizens in the vein of Blake Butler, and that means supporting (submitting AND reading) emerging and established literary journals.

The numbers alongside the names represent how many times I recommended a specific author. Please leave suggestions in the comments feed. I’m always looking to shake up my reading list. If you have certain writers you recommend to students again and again, share. If you’re a student and were truly impacted by a specific writer, share.

George Saunders 15
Alissa Nutting 14
xTx 11
Andre Dubus 10
Matt Bell 8
Patrick Somerville 7
Kirsty Logan 7
Amber Sparks 7
Etgar Keret 7
Raymond Carver 7
Lorrie Moore 6
Martin Amis 6
Wells Tower 5
Breece D’J Pancake 4
Tom Perrotta 4
Alice Munro 4
Emma Straub 4
Bobbie Ann Mason 4
Roxane Gay 4
Kelly Link 4
Brian Allen Carr 4
Cathy Day 4
Scott Snyder 4
Deborah Eisenberg 3
Tillie Olsen 3
Colson Whitehead 3
Don Lee 3
Joyce Carol Oates 3
Matthew Simmons 3
Donald Barthelme 3
Gary Fincke 2
James Alan McPherson 2
Tobias Wolff 2
ZZ Packer 2
Alice Munro 2
Paul Yoon 2
Richard Yates 2
Barry Hannah 2
Bret Easton Ellis 2
John Fowles 2
Benjamin Percy 2
Donald Ray Pollack 2
Blake Butler 2
John Minichillo 2
Steve Himmer 2
Rick Moody 2
Philip Roth 2
Trey Ellis 2
Tim Jones-Yelvington 2
Junot Diaz 2
Steve Almond 2
Jonathan Lethem 2
Justin Taylor 2
Tina May Hall 2
Tom Bailey
Stewart O’Nan
Sarah Gardner Borden
Deborah Eisenberg
Teddy Wayne
A.M. Homes
James Baldwin
Peter Bognnani
Jayne Anne Phillips
Rebecca Barry
Aubrey Hirsch
Joe Meno
Richard Ford
Seth Fried
Rick Bass
Sherwood Anderson
Jeffrey Eugenides
Brian Oliu
J.A. Tyler
Lydia Davis
Dennis Cooper
Douglas Coupland
Cormac McCarthy
Cory Doctorow
Mike Meginnis
Rachel Glasser
Kevin Wilson
Gregory Sherl
Dave Eggers
Jay McInerney
Miranda July
Scott McClanahan
Brock Clarke
Peter Mewshaw
Frank Hinton
Shane Jones
Aleksandar Hemon
Tim O’Brien
John Irving
Gary Shteyngart

The Emprise Review 5
Hobart 5
kill author 4
PANK 4
Metazen 3
Prick of the Spindle 3
Flywheel Magazine 3
Annalemma 3
Atticus Review 3
Monkeybicycle 2
Decomp 2
Gargoyle Magazine 2
Dark Sky 2
Barrelhouse
Pear Noir!
Parcel
The Collagist
Diagram
Weave
FRiGG
Caper Literary Journal
Elimae
Stoked!
Barrelhouse