Garth Risk Hallberg

BA, Washington University, St. Louis. MFA, New York University. Author of the novel City on Fire, forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf, and the novella A Field Guide to the North American Family; anthologized in Best New American Voices 2008, Best of the Web 2008, The Late American Novel; stories and essays published in The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, Prairie Schooner, Glimmer Train, New York Magazine, Canteen, Slate, The Pinch, Los Angeles Times; The Millions (contributing editor); National Book Critics Circle Balakian Prize finalist (2011 and 2012); 2008 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow in fiction. SLC, 2016–

Previous Courses

Ficton Workshop


The dream of the perfect short story has haunted writers for as long as the form has been around. In this workshop, we'll be looking at the way a great story is more often a masterpiece of imperfection; that is, we’ll be exploring the tensions between constraint, elegance, and order on one hand and transcendence, disorder, and "lifeness" on the other—and the strange harmonics that can arise from all of the above. Each writer will be asked to turn in two stories and one radical revision. Along the way, we’ll be reading and arguing with work by Grace Paley, Deborah Eisenberg, Edward P. Jones, Denis Johnson, and Mavis Gallant, among others.


Fiction Craft: The Nature and Purpose of Drama


Prose fiction viewed from one angle is a mongrel genre pitched halfway between poetry and the stage. It's hard enough to talk about the poetry part…but what about the drama? This craft class will focus on what fiction writers can learn from their board-treading colleagues about the complex relationships among character, plot, and structure. What makes a great character? What plot should she find herself in? How should the story be told? What separates an urgent scene from a flat one? How can we move from any of these starting points to any of the others? And what can all of this tell us about the larger drama of writing itself? Craft readings will draw on the work of playwrights, directors, and novelists who have wrestled with these questions, including Henry James, Constantin Stanislavski, David Mamet, Anton Chekhov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Suzann Lori-Parks, and Tony Kushner. Primarily, though, we'll explore these writers' ideas as they play out in fiction by Deborah Eisenberg, Don DeLillo, Edward P. Jones, Grace Paley, Denis Johnson, Christine Schutt, Junot Diaz, and others.