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Young Author To Share ‘Haunting’ Stories For MFA Talk

Nov. 15, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Michael Sheehan, an assistant professor of creative writing at Stephen F. Austin State University, will show budding writers at Sam Houston State University what someone who’s in the early stages of a writing career can accomplish on Monday (Nov. 18).

Sheehan will read from his debut collection of short stories, Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned, as part of the English department’s MFA Reading Series, beginning at 6 p.m. in Evans Building Room 212.

Michael Sheehan
On Nov. 18 Michael Sheehan (above) will read from his debut collection of short stories (below), which was recently published by Colony Collapse Press.
Sheehan's book cover

The collection presents a series of tales of obsession that “make the familiar strange and the strange familiar,” according to the publisher, Colony Collapse Press.

“There's a haunting quality to Sheehan's stories, a disquieting effect, the sense that something has gone tremendously wrong and even if you can't always name it—and sometimes you can—it's still coming for you nonetheless,” said Scott Kaukonen, director of the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, editing and publishing. “On the surface, the stories are suburban and contemporary, fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, but there is too the anxiety that suffuses our present moment, that at any time and at any place, it can all go so terribly, terribly wrong. And maybe you are to blame and maybe you are not. But the result is still the same.”

His work explores the “formal possibilities of the art” of short story writing, Kaukonen said.

“Sheehan's stories, in their fragmentation, in their various narrative voices, in their structures, are not ‘classical;’ that is, you won't find the introduction of a conflict, a rising action, a climax, a brief falling action,” he said. “And yet there's a power to them, somehow, and we want students to see how it's possible to do that.”

Sheehan holds an MFA from the University of Arizona and is a former fellow of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. He previously has published individual stories and reviews that have appeared in Conjunctions, DIAGRAM, The Rumpus and elsewhere.

Earlier that day, Sheehan will speak with creative writing students, beginning at 4 p.m. in Evans Building Room 212.

Both presentations are open to the public.

The MFA Reading Series was created to bring to campus a mix of visiting and local writers whose poetry and prose, works in translation and graphic novels represent the many creative outlets for writers.

“One of the pleasures of the reading series is the opportunity to expose our students, and the community, to young writers whose careers are just, or still, lifting off the ground, and Michael is certainly one of those writers,” Kaukonen said. “Sometimes it can be particularly intimidating to students—undergraduates and graduates alike—to encounter well-established writers who bring with them a long list of books and publications, and it's easy for a student to think, ‘I'll never be that writer. How can I ever be that writer?’

“But when the person standing on the other side of that podium sat in the student's same seat just a few short years ago, it suddenly seems much more real, much more possible,” he said.

For more information, contact Kaukonen at kaukonen@shsu.edu or 936.294.1407.



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