Author Matt Bell to give virtual craft talk, reading for Fredonia State

Matt Bell, the author of “A Tree or a Person or a Wall” — a collection of short stories with a flavor of the experimental, the apocalyptic and often both — will present a craft talk and fictional reading as part of the Mary Louise White Visiting Writers Series at the State University at Fredonia.

Michael Sheehan, SUNY Fredonia Department of English assistant professor, said he finds Bell’s stories and novels often treading the line between literary fiction and fairy tales, horror and the surreal.

“His work can be dark and strange, whether in a dystopian Detroit or a fairy tale wood stalked by a bear, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood or an alphabetical index of ways a family was lost,” Sheehan said. “He often uses lyrical language and imagery in the place of traditional elements like character or even plot — and yet his stories and novels are filled with emotive moments of characters facing obstacles — physical or psychical — as well as potent settings, tense plots, and resonant themes.”

Writing by Bell has appeared in The New York Times, Conjunctions magazine, Fairy Tale Review, American Short Fiction literary magazine and the former Tin House magazine, among other publications. He studied at Bowling Green State University and currently teaches in the Creative Writing program at Arizona State University.

Bell will read excerpts from “Appleseed,” his forthcoming novel that is expected to be published June 2021. The Mary Louise White Visiting Writer Series, established through the Fredonia College Foundation, has transitioned to a virtual format for the fall semester.

The Zoom craft talk, to be given on Wednesday at 7 p.m., can be accessed online at fredonia-edu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEoc-mqqTotGdAgDAbctPt8dbUrigGxUR1G .

The fiction reading, on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m., can be accessed online at fredonia-edu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYqfuigqTIsE9yuZG6s-Tt-am9–AuGbkEWd

Apart from his work itself, Sheehan observes that Bell is a writer who exemplifies good literary citizenship. During the pandemic, he curated launch events for writers whose books were scheduled for publication during lockdown. He also started a monthly newsletter with prompts and reading suggestions. The prompts draw on his wide reading, including of fabular, fantastical, and science fiction.

Bell just announced a forthcoming book on craft — “Refuse to be Done” — which focuses on revision and the real work of writing, after the draft.


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