Reading both contemporary short fiction and work from the canon, we will discuss voice, structure, plot, and character to explore the mechanics of breaking a reader’s heart. How do you write a compelling and heartbreaking story that isn’t simply a manipulative one-note dirge? How do you jump start that alchemical process that transforms tiny black and white symbols on the page into an arresting and overwhelming three-dimensional world? We will read closely and deeply to figure out what breaks our hearts as readers so we can, in-turn, break everyone else’s hearts. Then we will try our newly honed black magic on each other in frequent workshops. Writers will include Deborah Eisenberg, Anton Chekhov, Jorge Luis Borges, Amy Hempel, George Saunders, James Baldwin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ramona Ausubel, Alexander Kluge, Marie-Helene Bertino, Jim Shephard, Tobias Wolff, Jennifer Egan, Edward P Jones, and more.
Corequisites: All students in Reading and Writing classes are required to attend regular Wednesday night literature events.