Fiction I

I’m teaching Fiction I at Grub Street this season, after a short tricky stint in Fiction II over the winter. Maybe it was just the winter that was tricky. I met some truly fine people, though, and I’m happy still to know them after the class is through.

I’ve taught Fiction I before & Grub Street wants the same basics covered each time (character, dialog, plot — I’d cover them anyway), but I’ve picked a few different stories for this go round. I’m a little pleased with my picks, I have to say. The’d make a nice pocket-sized anthology for anytime, anymind.

1: Fiction Basics
reading: “Twenty-Two Stories” by Paul Theroux
(I was never a Paul Theroux fan until I started reading him closely, then I realized there was nothing, nothing he didn’t know about craft)

2: Characters
reading: “The Beau Monde of Mrs. Bridge” by Evan S. Connell
reading the first half “The Old Order” by Katherine Anne Porter
(of course this could just as easily been any number of stories by either writer: “He” or “Magic” or “The Fisherman from Chihuahua”)

3: More Characters
reading: “1917” by Mary Swan
reading: “The Bees, Part 1” by Alexander Hemon
(after reading “1917” in Harpers I was so excited to read The Deep, then I realized with some disappointment that “1917” was the best thing in it. I recently read a story that ripped it off, as a matter of fact, though now I can’t remember where.)

4: Plot
reading: “Love and Hydrogen” by Jim Shepard
(he does his research) 

5: Dialogue
reading: “Bingo and the Little Woman” by P.G. Wodehouse
(It’s really hard to find someone who writes good dialog. Odd because it feels so easy to write. I’d hardly call Wodehouse ‘accurate’ but I’ve never read any dialog that’s funnier anywhere) 

6: Setting
reading: “The Hermit’s Story” by Rick Bass
(its the snipe that sell this one)

7: POV
reading: “A Tortoise for the Queen of Tonga” by Julia Whitty
(eerily, this was another one from Harpers where the story bests the book. Still, it’s a hell of a story. I will go to Tonga)

8: Style
reading: “Big Blonde” By Dorothy Parker
(one of the saddest of all of her sad, pitch-perfect stories. Honestly, who writes better prose than Dorothy Parker? I think its criminal that we’re so familiar with the quips we don’t bother spending time with her best art)

9: Revision
reading: “Toward the Interior” by Joshua Harmon
(why doesn’t this guy write more fiction?)

10: Publishing
reading the conclusion of “The Old Order” by Katherine Anne Porter

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