Mary Stewart Atwell is the author of Wild Girls (Scribner 2012). Her short fiction has appeared in journals including Epoch and Alaska Quarterly Review, and in the anthologies Best New American Voices and Best American Mystery Stories. She teaches at Virginia Military Institute and is really almost finished with her second novel, Save the Children.
Known for stories and novels that force us to question the conventional dichotomy between realist and fantasy fiction, Kevin Brockmeier knows how to reveal the strangeness of the world around us. In conversation with Mary Stewart Atwell, Brockmeier discusses his new novel, The Illumination, and the compelling metaphors that inform his writing.
Andrew Porter is the author of The Theory of Light and Matter, which won the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and was recently republished by Vintage. Each one of these critically acclaimed stories is beautifully paced and plotted–a veritable nesting box–and full of lovely sentences you’ll want to read aloud just for the pleasure of it.
In this interview, Porter discusses how crafting stories is like editing film; what particular advantages peripheral narrators can afford; and why it’s “completely surreal” to hear actors read from your work.
J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand is a collection of 100 linked short short stories–linked by their location, a small upstate New York town that resembles Lennon’s hometown of Ithaca, and by their narrator, described as “unemployed, and satisfied to be unemployed.”
McGurl, a professor of English at UCLA, is a literary scholar who actually likes writers. More amazingly, he likes MFA programs. In The Program Era, published by Harvard University Press, McGurl argues that the rise of the MFA program in the twentieth century made a uniquely significant contribution to the excellence of postwar American literature.
Mary Stewart Atwell and Alison Espach talk with short fiction guru Lydia Davis about transitioning from inventing worlds to inverting the real one; writing dream stories; and translating Madame Bovary.