Allan Gurganus


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“I wish there were 150 hours in every day to try to get down the stories that I see bubbling up out of the ground everywhere. They’re ancient stories, but they seem new to this moment in history.”

So says Allan Gurganus in this On the Fly interview recorded in early 2011 when he visited Iowa City to read from unpublished fiction he was just finishing at the time.

In the interview, the 1972 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop speaks with affection of his time in the program—spent under the tutelage of John Irving, John Cheever, and Stanley Elkin. He also talks about his work habits, the toxicity of adverbs, the time he unwillingly spent in the military, and the ethics of a writer’s craft.

Gurganus is the author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All—which garnered the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters— White People, The Practical Heart, Plays Well with Others, and Local Souls. His short stories have earned several honors and been widely anthologized. He has been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and his novella Blessed Assurance: A Moral Tale is part of the Harvard Business School’s Ethics curriculum.