Keith Gessen, novelist and editor of Brooklyn journal n+1, published a fascinating essay called “Money” in Chad Harbach’s outstanding anthology MFA Vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction. Gessen tells the story of the time he taught a creative writing class while simultaneously going through the final editing process on a feature article destined for a magazine. Juggling teaching responsibilities with the demands of the publishing industry took a toll on him.
I sympathize with Mssr. Gessen. Or rather, I sympathize with my sympathy for him. If Yale would only return my emails, I would have a tenured position on the English faculty and, therefore, I would also have something cutting to say about the burden of grading papers and creating lesson plans on top of the vocation of writing. Ah well, good things come to those who… forget it, I’ll get to the point.
I shall now note, for your benefit, my erudite reader, a few works of fiction that Gessen included in the syllabus for his workshop, works that should cause the dedicated writers among us to perk up their ears. Those stories include:
- George Saunders’ “Sea Oak”
- Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be?
- Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
- Curtis White’s “Combat”
- Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections
- Chris Kraus’s “Trick”
- Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus
A promising reading list, to be sure. Have at it! And let me know which is your favorite at @City_Sasquatch.