Thursday, May 26, 2016

Andy Mozina

Andy Mozina is a professor of English at Kalamazoo College and the author of the short story collections The Women Were Leaving the Men, which won the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and Quality Snacks, which was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Prize.

Mozina's new book, Contrary Motion, is his debut novel.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I just finished the short story collection The Heaven of Animals by David James Poissant. He inhabits the worlds of all of his characters so thoroughly that by the end of each story, I have a sense that I’ve heard someone out, heard them express their core values, seen them at their best and at their worst. He makes you care about real people, flaws and all, and he writes about characters you might easily sympathize with (parents who’ve lost a child, a boy who is bullied at a party), as well as some people you may not like (two cousins have a decades-long affair, a bigoted man who throws his gay son out a window). This is a writer with a great deal of courage and empathy. Plus his stories are funny and inventive, with a mix of realist and magical realist pieces.

Now I’m re-reading Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell because I’m going to teach it to my advanced fiction workshop. The novel has a fabulous main character, sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, who finds herself living on her own on a river in rural Michigan when her mother runs off and her father is shot by her cousin. It also has a narrative drive as powerful as a river at flood stage. Margo’s youth, gender and class make her vulnerable; her resilience, skills and gumption make her unstoppable. I love to teach this book to beginning writers because it has everything: a quick and clear dramatic hook, a wonderful sense of place, great moment-to-moment detailing of setting and character, and a complex and satisfying character arc.

I’m also reading Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, a novel that looks at both sides of a contemporary marriage. So far I’ve just seen things from Lotto’s (the husband’s) point of view. I expect some of what I think I know about Lotto will be complicated and/or reversed when we get things from Mathilde’s (the wife’s) point of view. Don’t tell me how it turns out! In the meantime, I’m enjoying the brilliant sentences and the depths of the characterizations.
Visit Andy Mozina's website.

The Page 69 Test: Contrary Motion.

--Marshal Zeringue