Suspend Your Disbelief

Christina McCarroll


Christina McCarroll holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won two Hopwood Awards and a Helen Zell Post-MFA Fellowship. She earned her M.A. and B.A. in English from Stanford University and has worked as a writer and editor at The Christian Science Monitor in Boston. Her book reviews and nonfiction essays have appeared in The Christian Science MonitorStanford magazine, and elsewhere, and her fiction has been nominated for the Best New American Voices series. She has taught at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and the University of Michigan.


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Stories We Love to Teach: "Tiny, Smiling Daddy"

I use “Tiny, Smiling Daddy,” from Mary Gaitskill’s collection Because They Wanted To, to help fiction students understand the value of stories that lack epiphanies, or any clear transformation in their characters. In Gaitskill’s story, a father who has long struggled with his only child’s sexuality finds that his daughter has published an essay about their difficult relationship, one in which she articulates the limitations of her father’s love. The father, aptly named Stew, is insulted, embarrassed, and rocketed back to moments in the past, gaps in understanding that have left him feeling assaulted and alone. In large part, his […]