Andrew Porter is the author of the short story collection, The Theory of Light and Matter, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and was recently republished in paperback by Vintage/Knopf. His fiction has appeared in One Story, Epoch, The Pushcart Prize Anthology and on NPR’s “Selected Shorts.” He currently teaches creative writing at Trinity University in San Antonio.
what are you reading now
Right now, I’m reading a few books: Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply, Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, The Best American Short Stories 2009, and What I Can’t Bear Losing, a collection of essays by Gerald Stern.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
A Sentimental Education by Flaubert. I’ve read a lot of Flaubert, and many of my friends have recommended this book to me, but for some reason I’ve never gotten around to reading it.
most treasured book in your collection
There are a few books in my collection that even my closest friends aren’t allowed to borrow. One of these books is my paperback edition of Stephanie Vaughn’s Sweet Talk, which is one of my very favorite short story collections and which is also currently “unavailable” (at least in paperback) on Amazon. How a collection this good could ever go out of print is beyond me.
book you borrowed and never returned
I’m very good about returning books to friends, but I believe my copy of Nabokov’s The Eye might still have a very old library card in it.
weirdest dream involving a book, writer, or literary character
I tend to forget my dreams as soon as I wake up, so it’s hard for me to say. I’ve probably had a few anxiety dreams about my own book, if that counts.
most challenging book you’ve ever read
At the end of my last semester of college, my creative writing professor decided on a whim that we should spend the last three weeks of the semester reading Ulysses. At the time, it seemed like a cruel joke. I mean, it was May, the flowers were blooming, most of us were about to graduate in less than a month; but still, I remember sitting in the library stacks and trudging through it, using whatever supplemental materials I could find to make sense of what I was reading. In retrospect, I don’t know how I made it through the entire book, but I did, and I can honestly say it was probably, in the end, one of the most rewarding reading experiences of my life.
collected stories of
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
I can’t remember ever doing this, but I have definitely hidden some of my Entertainment Weeklys under copies of The New Yorker.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
That’s easy. One Story. I don’t know of another magazine out there that’s publishing more interesting fiction these days.
best thing you’ve read online recently
“The Witches” by Rebecca Curtis over at Five Chapters.
most anticipated upcoming release
I’m very excited to read my friend Doug Dorst’s short story collection The Surf Guru, which should be coming out this spring.
recommended reading list:
The Big Taboo: Writers Writing about Writers
One thing every creative writing professor will tell you is that you should never write a short story about a writer. If you want to make the main character a writer, they’ll say, then make him or her something else: a musician, a painter, a filmmaker, even an actor. And yet, over the years I’ve read some incredibly good short stories about writers, and these are just a few of them:
- “Cats and Students, Bubbles and Abysses” by Rick Bass
- “92 Days” by Larry Brown
- “Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice” by Nam Le
- “A Conversation with My Father” by Grace Paley
- “Life Story” by John Barth
- “The Office” by Alice Munro
- “How to Tell a Story” by Margo Rabb
- “Put Yourself in My Shoes” by Raymond Carver
- “Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta” by Kate Braverman
- “How to Become A Writer” by Lorrie Moore