I get questions sometimes about whether the MFA Story exists. The concern is decades old, of course, and less interesting every year. The MFA Story does not exist, at least not from what I’ve seen or read or experienced. Programs don’t really promote certain subjects or styles.
I bring this up partly because I wanted to make a list of the subjects I’ve read about during the fiction workshop this semester at Wyoming.
werewolves, the Mothman, a pro wrestler, a hunter, a drowning moose, a town going under, a newspaper going under, a burlesque, a cross-dresser, a prison sentence, turtles, a General Store, road-kill, some clay people, a great woman in the sky who pees gold, a cave, Virginia, Bulgaria, translation, a mastodon’s remains, an umbrella salesman, a boy who is also a fish, some flags, a tomahawk, a mother’s death, a father’s death, an anonymous death, some life, some love, some shame, and lots of other things.
It’s a mix. Man.
I could add trash to the list, considering that Val Pexton, a recent MFA graduate and a teacher at Wyoming, got a story up at The Other Room last Friday. The story is far from trash. It’s called “Waste.”
From “Waste”: “Back when he hauled cans, he’d get so cold that by the time he got home his hands would be too icy-stiff to turn the doorknob, so he’d have to knock until Versa opened up for him. She’d let him in and they’d sit in the kitchen, the woodstove blazing, and she would remove his gloves like she was peeling a banana, and then she’d put his big, callused, cold hands in her own, and gently warm his fingers. Cold hands used to mean the love of his wife, of being finally warm enough to remove the rest of his clothes and take her into the bedroom. That was when Versa wanted him, right after his hands warmed, before he had a chance to clean the stink of work from his body. Jesus God, he misses those times.”
Give that a read. It’s really a fine story.
And forget about the Story-story.