Episode 542 – Andrew Porter

Virtual Memories Show 542:
Andrew Porter

“I felt like a lot of my 20s and 30s were about accumulating things, adding things to my life, acquiring. Then I began to notice after I got married and had kids that those things from earlier in my life began to disappear.”

With his new story collection, THE DISAPPEARED (Knopf), Andrew Porter explores the intricacies of loss in day-to-day life, and all that vanishes as we grow into middle age. We talk about how the stories came together for him, why he set (almost) all the stories in The Disappeared in San Antonio and Austin, how he had to adjust his writing life once he became a dad, and why he loves writing about artists. We also get into his path into writing, the moment he discovered contemporary fiction is his jam, and his lessons learned from teaching fiction for more than 20 years: how student sensibilities around genre have changed, the stories he’s had to retire from teaching, and Marilynne Robinson’s influence of his teaching style. Plus, we discuss stories vs. novels, the changes in literary magazines, his newfound penchant for flash fiction, how he lost all his writing in an apartment break-in 20+ years ago (and my twisted idea for a story about that), and more. Give it a listen! And go read The Disappeared!

“The big difference I’ve seen with writing students is the embracing of many genres, the blurring of genres, and the sense that all these things can work together.”

“It’s kind of amazing what great readers my students are, in this generation. They love books, they celebrate books, they get excited by books. It’s encouraging to see, when there’s so much competing for their attention nowadays.”

“Usually if I set a story aside or discard it, it’s because the tone is not really working. I’m not feeling that character, I’m not feeling that soul on the other side of the words.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Andrew Porter is the author of the story collection The Theory of Light and Matter and the novel In Between Days. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received a Pushcart Prize, a James Michener/Copernicus Fellowship, and the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. His work has appeared in One Story, The Threepenny Review, and Ploughshares, and on public radio’s Selected Shorts. Currently, he teaches fiction writing and directs the creative writing program at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. His new short story collection is The Disappeared.

Follow Andrew on Twitter and Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Andrew by Sarah E. Cooper. It’s on my instagram.

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