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Focus on student fiction

December 7, 2012

Focus on student fiction

Greg Hrbek with his English 363 class
Greg Hrbek with his EN 363 class
(photo by Eric Jenks)

Students in Greg Hrbek’s course EN 363 “Reading for Writers” will mark the end of the semester in a distinctive fashion: a public reading of their works by Skidmore faculty, scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, in Davis Auditorium.

The event, a take on “Selected Shorts” Skidmore-style, mimics the format of the popular public radio show in which actors read short fiction at New York City’s Symphony Space. At Skidmore, the authors are students and the readers are authors and teachers, all members of the College’s faculty. Hrbek bills the event “A Reading of Tales from the Literary Penumbra Known as the Fantastic!” and lists himself as “high priest of ceremonies.”

The award-winning author of the novel The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly, (Bard/Avon, 1999), the story collection Destroy All Monsters (U of Nebraska Press, 2011), and short fiction published in Harper's Magazine, Salmagundi, and Idaho Review, among others, Hrbek says this is the first-ever event of this kind but he hopes it will not be the last.

The program features six three-page stories written during the course of the semester:

  • Alex Kallner, read by Steven Millhauser
  • Chloe Stricklin, read by April Bernard
  • Katie Bennett, read by Melora Wolf
  • Rowley Amato, read by Robert Boyers
  • Maya Mortman, read by Martha Wiseman
  • Keith Gopie, read by Marc Woodworth

Hrbek says the student authors “are honored and psyched to have their work read.” Their stories arose from an assignment and were reviewed in class as part of the course, which Hrbek describes as a combination of literature class and writing workshop. The course has 19 students, all seniors, who spent the semester studying “fantastic literature,” which mixes the real and supernatural. In addition to reading selections classified as science fiction, fantasy, and horror by the likes of Hans Christian Andersen, Ray Bradbury, and H.P. Lovecraft, the students also viewed the famous Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” They also completed weekly writing assignments and critical-response papers, as well as the final short stories—six of which will be front and center Dec. 13.

Assignments allowed students to practice the writing of stories that combined elements of realism and the supernatural, or fantasy. Said Hrbek, “I’m really interested in teaching this genre because I think it is hard to do successfully. What I’ve found is that the whole class has been writing impressively. The writing in this class is very strong.”

Posted On: 12/7/2012

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