In the anthology Sudden Fiction, Robert Kelly refers to short-short fiction as “the insidious, sudden, alarming, stabbing, tantalizing, annihilating form… neither poetic prose nor prosy verse, but the energy and clarity typical of prose coincident in the scope and rhythm of the poem.” In the same anthology, Joyce Carol Oates writes that “very short fictions are nearly always experimental, exquisitely calibrated, reminiscent of Frost’s definition of a poem—a structure of words that consumes itself as it unfolds, like ice melting on a stove.” Very short fictions tend to rely on surprise, a hard turn at the end. They’re often elliptical or fragmented, and often shaped by tone and shadow. In this class, we’ll read, write, and workshop pieces of short-short fiction, exploring compression and limitation, evocation and implication, formal constraint and what might arise from line pressure and narrative restriction, an immersion in the annihilating form.
Samuel Ligon is the author of two novels—Among the Dead and Dreaming and Safe in Heaven Dead—and two collections of stories, Wonderland, illustrated by Stephen Knezovich, and Drift and Swerve. His short fiction has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New England Review, New Ohio Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. Ligon serves as Artistic Director of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, and teaches at Eastern Washington University. He edits the journal Willow Springs.
"AMONG THE DEAD AND DREAMING is a masterful exhibition in storytelling; a breathless page-turner, in which every chapter is a revelation. Ligon drives his narrative like a formula one racer. Buckle your seat-belts and get ready for a thrilling ride."
"AMONG THE DEAD AND DREAMING is a wildly original love story, a ghost story, a tense and suspenseful story in which the wickedly talented Samuel Ligon channels voices—of the lost, the longing, and the damned."
"Part meditation on modern love’s dark and often unexamined underbelly; part can’t-put-it-down-even-for-a-dinner-break-thriller, AMONG THE DEAD AND DREAMING contains one of the most convincingly and complicatedly terrifying fictional characters I have run into in a great while. Told in a round by multiple voices, belonging to the living and the dead, this haunting, lyrical, indie rock song of a novel will take you back to every time you were tortured—or administered torture—in the name of love."