Sunday, September 28, 2008

Manuel Muñoz

Manuel Muñoz is the author of two collections of short stories: Zigzagger (Northwestern University Press, 2003) and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize.

He is a member of the faculty of the University of Arizona's creative writing program.

Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
My undergrads have begun with the 2008 edition of The O. Henry Prize Stories, and I'm getting a real kick at introducing them to writers many of them have never encountered. Steven Millhauser was an enormous hit with them and it's heartening to know that a few students will seek out more of his work because of this exposure. I look forward to seeing how they'll respond to Edward P. Jones and Mary Gaitskill, to name just two of my own favorites in this year's anthology.

For pleasure, I've begun Joan Silber's just-released novel, The Size of the World. I'm an enormous fan of her collection Ideas of Heaven, and I'm captivated once again by her easy style and her effortless command. I'm savoring this one.

A book I started too late to assign to my undergrads, but will appear on a syllabus in the spring, is Asali Solomon's fantastic short story collection, Get Down: I sense my students will respond well to her extraordinary warmth and humor, even in difficult situations. And I can't wait to start Walk the Blue Fields, by the Irish writer Claire Keegan. I recently met both of these writers at a conference in Cork and came away quite impressed. Sadly, it was only Keegan whom I got to see on a panel: she was terrific on one about Irish literature, and I was quite taken with her composure, her sure-footed commitment to her writing, and her extremely intelligent reasoning for its place in the world.
Visit Manuel Muñoz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue