A New Semester: Short Story Collections

This week begins the new semester at George Mason University—another semester of virtual teaching, but with a new twist: my first time teaching a new course in “Short Story Collections.”

This course rises from the interest that many former students have had in gathering their undergraduate short stories into a collection. Over the past decade or so, several students have requested and worked with me on independent studies to plan a collection, gather and revised old stories, and write news one with both purpose and strategy. More than a dozen students will follow the same path this semester, but this time as part of a cohort studying and supporting one another’s work.

I’m grateful to several writers whose books we’ll be studying this semester—writers the students will be meeting with as well! Karen Russell is one of the Creative Writing Program’s Visiting Writers this semester, and our class will be reading her collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove before her virtual event on Thursday, February 11. Additionally, we’ll be reading Jennifer Egan’s novel in stories A Visit from the Goon Squad and Rion Amilcar Scott’s Insurrections—and I’m thrilled that both Egan and Scott have agreed to zoom into our class to talk about their work.

Additionally, back when I was planning the course, I asked on Facebook for suggestions of single-author collections that seemed to cohere particularly well, and I got more than 100 suggestions! I’ve gathered those suggestions into a list—celebrating crowdsourcing. Students in the course will need to choose one additional collection from that list to read, study, and present to the rest of the class. For folks here interested in that list, I’ve included it below—with many books and authors new to me as well!

Happy first week of the semester to all. May your reading—and writing—be as interesting as mine ahead.