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Wednesday, September 23 2015

With the 2014 publication of the anthology “MFA vs NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction,” the literary conversation continued about which is the better option for writers: earn an MFA in creative writing or move to NYC, the country’s publishing capital.

Not being as widely discussed is the third alternative: Ron Currie, Jr. Maine native Ron Currie, Jr. has a high school degree and had just quit working as a short order cook in Waterville when his first book was published by Penguin in 2007—that publication earned him the prestigious Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library.

Arguing in favor of the MFA will be Iowa Writers Workshop alum Justin Tussing. Making a case for NYC will be Porochista Khakpou. Stating a case for neither the MFA nor moving to NYC is Ron Currie, Jr.

Ron Currie Jr. holds a high school degree from Waterville High School in Maine. His debut book, God is Dead (Penguin, 2007) received the Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library, as well as the Metcalf award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Writing in the New York Times about his first novel, Everything Matters! (Penguin, 2009), Janet Maslin called Currie a “startlingly talented writer” who “survives the inevitable, apt comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and writes in a tenderly mordant voice of his own.” Currie’s second novel, Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles (Viking) appeared in 2013. 

Porochista Khakpour’s debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove/Atlantic, 2007), was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and won the 77th annual California Book Award prize in First Fiction. Her second novel, The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury USA, 2014) is set in NYC, where she lives. 

Justin Tussing is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His debut novel, The Best People in the World (HarperCollins, 2006), was awarded the 2006 Ken Kesey Award for the Novel. Currently the interim director of the Stonecoast MFA at the University of Southern Maine. His second novel has just been sold by agent Bill Clegg to editor Pat Strachan at Catapult Press.

This free event is co-presented by SPACE and the MWPA and made possible thanks to the generous support of the Kirby Family Foundation.

Due to a performer’s possible Covid-19 exposure and rain in the forecast, the status of the July 25th Steve Gunn and William Tyler show at Greenwood Garden is unclear. We will update all ticket holders and the public on Saturday, July 24th with more information.