Monday, November 24, 2008

Potboiler 101

Guess who Ethan Canin's high school English teacher was? I've still got Canin's America, America in my to-read pile. (Tallahassee Democrat)

When it comes to a writer's bio, Canin's is an oddity. He started out studying engineering in college but switched gears and enrolled in the famed University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. The intense fiction workshops left him a bit rattled so he turned to his "back-up" plan by getting accepted at Harvard Medical School. (Aren't most struggling writers supposed to work as bartenders?)

While he was still in medical school, he published the short-story collection "Emperor of the Air" in 1988 when he was only 27. After graduating from Harvard, Canin practiced medicine and continued his writing.

"Medicine made me interested in the serious parts of life," Canin said. "Or, perhaps I was already interested in them and thus went into medicine. But when you're present at birth and death — all manner of calamity — you can't help but think about the nature of human existence. That's good for a writer."

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