Emma Cline

MFA, Columbia University. Author of the novel The Girls, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, an L.A. Times Book Prize, and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. Cline was the recipient of the Plimpton Prize from the Paris Review, and her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, the Paris Review, and two editions of The Best American Short Stories. In 2017, she was named one of Grantas Best Young American Novelists. SLC, 2018–

Previous Courses

Fiction Craft: Narrative Obsession


How do we reveal ourselves, obliquely or otherwise, in the act of longing for another? And how can writers use such revelations for narrative effect? While the objects of obsession for these writers range from ex-lovers to strangers, our readings are all books whose driving force comes from a singular focus on the other. Even though ostensibly these are books “about” another person, I’m interested in how they function as a portrait of their narratorsmaps of their psychological topography. I’d like to look at the ways in which obsession tints and twists our ability to tell a story and how writers can employ this as a narrative tool in their own work. For the reader, a narrator with an obsession is a useful entry point into a world. We’ll look at the choices that these authors make and to what effect, the craft strategies that they employ to create a slippage in narration, and think about how obsession both reveals and obscures reality. Readings will include works by Chris Kraus, Maggie Nelson, Sophie Calle, Jeffrey Eugenides, Scott Spencer, and others. Informed by the reading, students will submit a creative work of 5-10 pages, animated by the theme of obsession.