On Stuart Dybek's "Saint Stuart" and Kent Haruf's "Benediction": Books to Come From Two of Our Best Writers

So last week I had the good fortune of overseeing the visit to our campus and fiction reading by Stuart Dybek, one of the finest contemporary American fiction writers of all. Dybek is known as something of a “writer’s writer,” but that sounds too effete for how good he is, and he’s anything but effete: His fiction, set mainly in Chicago, is gutsy, earthy, nostalgic, funny, ribald, and insightful. During his visit he read excerpts from a nonfiction novel-in-progress titled Saint Stuart, which had some hilarious descriptions of being an oversized, outmanned boxer at a Chicago Catholic high school. And during the visit I found out Dybek is also friends with Kent Haruf, who has finished a new novel that should be out in the not-too-distant future, titled Benediction. I’ve no doubt it will be knockout, following on the heels of his two most recent novels that were published to much acclaim (and became best-sellers): Plainsong (1999) and Eventide (2004). Kent is one of the best American novelists, and writes about my adopted home-state, Colorado. Right now I’m rereading Stuart Dybek’s I Sailed With Magellan (2003), and am excited to look forward to two good books in the future.

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