Garth Risk Hallberg

BA, Washington University in 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, CanteenSlate, The Pinch, The 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.

Course Information

Previous courses

Fiction Workshop: The Novel

Spring

Just exactly what is a novel, anyway? How do you make one? And why? These are the guiding questions we’ll be answering—or discovering are unanswerable—in this workshop. Along the way ,we’ll be considering questions of process, structure, voice, dramaturgy, and imagination—but always in pursuit of rougher beasts like truth, magic, pleasure, and intensity. Conception and revision will be given equal weight. Each writer turning in material will be expected to put the workshop to use according to his or her own lights, whether it’s to test drive material that may turn into a novel or to help revise a completed manuscript. Along the way, we’ll be reading and arguing with Kundera’s and Forster’s short books on the novel and will likely read novels by Edith Wharton, Philip Roth, Haruki Murakami, Renata Adler, Sheila Heti, and Zadie Smith.

Faculty

The Craft of Fiction: Finding the Drama

Fall

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. 

Faculty

The Nature and Purpose of Drama

Fall

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. 

Faculty