I’m drawn to nonfiction because it allows us to write about anything, including poetry and fiction. The only limitation is that our words must be true, which is what makes nonfiction so interesting: what’s ‘true’? Not only factually but emotionally, aesthetically, ethically. Ultimately this is what we spend the majority of class time discussing.
In my twenties I wrote, designed, and published The Imp, a ’zine about underground comic books, or graphic novels, as they’re now called. Each issue was a novella-length essay about one subject: Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Jack Chick, and Mexican historietas. These led to my first official book, Chris Ware, followed by Vessels, a memoir of fatherhood. Now I’m writing a book-length essay about Chicago, about the intersections of race, class, and the mortgage industry, particularly with regard to home ownership and condominium associations. Along the way I’ve received fellowships from the Howard Foundation at Brown University, the National Endowment for the Arts, and others.
Work with Students
I’ve advised every kind of BA and MA project: one about growing up on an Indian reservation, another about drag queens. Having brain cancer. A mom who’s homeless; another who’s a senator. Profiles, essays, reporting. Art criticism. A murder investigation. Radio stories. Anything goes, in any format.
- Beginning Nonfiction Workshop
- Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Truth
- Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Aiming for Publication
- Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: The Fictions of Nonfiction
- Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: Narrative Structure
- Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: The Synecdoche
- Special Topics in Nonfiction: Reading and Writing Memoir
- Nonfiction Thesis/Major Projects Workshop
- Vessels. New York: WW Norton, 2016.
- Chris Ware. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.
- “Willa Raeburn.” newyorker.com (July 10, 2006).
- “Vessels.” The New Yorker (May 1, 2006): 48-53.
- “The Smartest Cartoonist on Earth.” In Chris Ware: Conversations, edited by Jean Braithwaite, 79-81. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2017.
- “¡Historietas Perversas!Mexico’s Perverse ‘Little Histories.’” Tin House 29 (2006): 97-110.
- “Two Centuries of Underground Comics.” In Strips, Toons, and Bluesies: Essays in Comics and Culture, edited by D.B. Dowd and Todd Hignite, 34-44. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.
- “The Fallen World of Daniel Clowes.” In An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, edited by Ivan Brunetti, 397. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
- “The Brand Called Shmoo.” In Boob Jubilee: The Cultural Politics of the New Economy, edited by Thomas Frank, 200-211. New York: WW Norton, 2003.