Mason professor will give insight on his writing process.

by B.J. Koubaroulis

Mason professor will give insight on his writing process.

Alan Cheuse, an acclaimed novelist, critic and English professor, will be appearing at George Mason’s Center for the Arts on April 20 at 7 p.m.

National Public Radio's longtime “voice of books,” Cheuse is the eighth and final speaker in the university’s “Vision Series” – an eight month series of lectures that sheds light on the creativity and real-world research that takes place every day on Mason’s campus.

“Alan Cheuse's established role as writer and public reviewer made him a natural for the Vision Series, in its upcoming final lecture of the year,” said Provost Peter Stearns.

A professor of English at Mason, Cheuse has published four novels, three collections of short fiction and the memoir Fall Out of Heaven. His recent fiction book To Catch the Lightning: A Novel of American Dreaming, won Grub Street’s 2009 National Book Prize for Fiction.

Cheuse’s short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Idaho Review, and The Southern Review, among other places.

“I’m going to do something I’ve never done before, which is talk about how I write a story,” said Cheuse, who also teaches at Squaw Valley Community of Writers – a coalition of writers based in the California Sierra Nevada. “I’m going to lead people into the process as vividly and gently as I can.”
As part of the April 20th lecture, Cheuse will share an informal commentary on one of his recently published short stories and will give a behind the scenes view of the various stages of his writing process, including the invention and composition of his work and the writing, rewriting and revision stages of his work.

Cheuse will be discussing his piece A Little Death – a short story about 1930’s painter Mark Gertler that was published in The Southern Review in the summer of 2007.

Using A Little Death as an example, Cheuse will talk about the way “Writers make fiction out of things they know, things out of their own lives, things they read, things they hear about other people, and things they imagine,” he said. “This particular story is more impressionistic and lyrical, but perfectly realistic.”

Cheuse is currently working with Nicholas Delbanco on a three-volume series of books -- Literature; Craft and Voice – with Volume 1 scheduled to publish this spring.

Since September, Mason’s “Vision Series” has welcomed professors to discuss a range of topics, including the new work force, the recent presidential election, evolution, genocide, art history, landmines, perception of art, and more.

“The Vision Series continues to be a significant community event, drawing strong support from various sectors of the university and surrounding region to hear dynamic presentations by Mason scholars on a wide range of topics,” said Stearns. “We're delighted both with the scholarly presentations and with the response.”

Cheuse’s lecture will be followed by an informal reception.
Free tickets are available online at

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