Blurb: Tom Spanbauer

I first heard about Tom Spanbauer back in 2001 after moving to Portland, Oregon. First it was like some sort of secret code, a whispered exultation by those in the know. Dangerous Writing. Tom Spanbauer. Anyone who knew anything about the creative, literary community here had a story about Tom, or knew someone who studied with him.

That hasn’t changed. Tom is the author of many novels, including The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, In the City of Shy Hunters, and Now Is the Hour. His next, I Loved You More, is forthcoming from Hawthorne Press this coming April. Tom, an incredibly celebrated teacher due to his Dangerous Writing methods and his candidness, has worked with many writers in the Portland area and beyond (including Forest Avenue Press’ graphic designer Gigi Little). While I never had the honor of sitting at Tom’s legendary table myself, I did take a weekend class from him and quickly discovered why everyone talks about him and wants to study with him. And I’ve read books by many of his students–Monica Drake, Joanna Rose, Chuck Palahniuk, Jennifer Lauck, Kassten Alonso, Robert Hill, and yes, Stevan Allred.

Tom taught and mentored Stevan and Joanna Rose, who later formed their own co-taught creative writing classes, The Pinewood Table. Recently, in an interview with Liz Prato in the Los Angeles Review, Stevan reminisced about Tom’s table, which he joined around 1992, and the influence the Dangerous Writing experience had on his growth as a writer.

Stevan said: “I had this moment where I realized, ‘This is the most extraordinary thing that’s happening here. To be at this table with these writers, to be treated this way, to be in the presence of Spanbauer, as a special a guy as he is. Be awake. Pay attention. You may never get this again. Just treasure every moment of it.’ And I’ve tried to live my life that way.”

It was an incredibly wonderful and moving experience when Stevan asked Tom for a blurb, and Tom kindly agreed. It has been about twenty years since Stevan sat as a student at Tom’s Dangerous Writing table, and now Stevan’s book is debuting as Forest Avenue Press’ first fiction title. Here’s what Tom had to say about A Simplified Map of the Real World:

“You don’t need to be from a small Oregon town to recognize Stevan Allred’s characters. They are your mother, your father, your cousin Cathy. And probably more than you’d like to admit, they even feel a bit like you. A Simplified Map of the Real World is a highly-skilled collection of interwoven stories, surprising in its various styles and voices. But the real surprise is how close Stevan Allred gets to the beating heart of what it means to be human. Petty, profane, sacred, scared, hilarious. We’re all in this book. And that’s quite a triumph.” Tom Spanbauer, author of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon


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