Brian Evenson: Some of the stories I always come back to, when I’m teaching full stories and trying to get students to understand how all the different elements of a story are working together, include William Trevor’s “Miss Smith,” which I think does amazing things with shifting the reader’s sympathy; Franz Kafka’s “A Country Doctor,” which does something amazingly manic with doubling and which may be my favorite story ever; Isak Dinesen’s “The Roads Round Pisa” or “The Monkey,” both of which do things that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else do; Peter Straub’s “Bunny Is Good Bread” and “Lapland,” which do very important things in terms of questioning the relation of genre to literature; Denis Johnson’s “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” which manages to collapse as a story while still establishing an incredible resonance; D. H. Lawrence’s “The Prussian Officer,” because it works even though it does all sorts of things that contemporary writers have been taught a story shouldn’t do. I often teach Kafka’s “A Fratricide”—it’s far from his best story, but it’s very rich in the things it can teach a writer; I can talk about it for hours. I love, too, to teach Muriel Spark’s novellas, Ohle’s Motorman, Dambudzo Marechera, Barbara Comyns, Leonard Sciascia, Ann Quin, Jean Echenoz, Eric Chevillard, certain Chekhov stories, Bruno Schulz, Heinrich Böll, Nabokov, Gary Lutz, Stanley Crawford, Kelly Link, etc., etc. There are a lot of writers I draw on and they’re different every semester, which is probably why I find it difficult to stick to an anthology. I end up teaching stories that I think are likely to be helpful or important to particular students.
19 January 2010
From a wonderful new interview with Brian Evenson by John Madera at Rain Taxi: