In his review of Amy Hempel’s story collection The Dog of The Marriage, New York Times book critic D.T. Max aptly wrote, “It’s said that the music you hear when you are first sexually active is the music you keep wanting to hear your whole life.” Often nicknamed, the “dirty realists,” writers such as Hempel, have long had to defend the inherent breadth of their “miniaturist” status. This course is envisioned as part seminar and part writing workshop. We will take famed editor Gordon Lish’s imperative to “write with the menace of death at hand” while examining classic works by Barry Hannah, Christine Schutt, Diane Williams, Raymond Carver, Fredrick Barthelme, Amy Hempel, as well as their current contemporaries such as Wells Towers, Lincoln Michel, Sarah Gerard, and Miranda July. Like Max, We will take issue with John Updike’s 2001 essay which capitulated that “These writers wrote out of a certain late-20th-century mood of burnout, of humorous antiromanticism; how much ‘point’ will be left when that mood has evaporated?”
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (typically held on alternating Wednesdays at 7:00pm).