David Michael Kaplan
Specialty Area: Creative writing (fiction)
Office #: Crown Center 403
Consider what happens when we read good fiction (certain postmodernist works aside): we are transported, almost magically, into an imaginative "reality" which can seem quite as real as the "real" world we've temporarily left behind--even if that world, like Alice's Wonderland or Gulliver's Lilliput, is not strictly realistic. And the characters who inhabit that world can seem quite as real as the real people of our lives. Maybe even more so, since, if the writer chooses, we can inhabit their very consciousnesses, and experience their emotions as ours. We feel, with real emotion, their pain, fear, disappointment, joy. Moreover, we react to them with real emotion, as if they were real people--with love, or anger, or pity, or whatever. They affect us. Sometimes, in the fictional works that speak to us most powerfully, we are even changed by them.
And yet--they and their conflicts and their world, are only words on a page. Not real at all. We have "forgotten" this, so much have we been enchanted (and I mean this in the sense of "spellbound" ) by the writer's words. It is like a magician casting a spell over us, so that for the duration of that spell, and maybe even after, we experience as real what is not.
So this is what I like to think we're doing in my fiction writing workshops, and what I tell my students: we are beginning the long, arduous process of learning how to become magicians.
B.A., Yale University (1967); M.F.A., University of Iowa (1987)
Fiction Writing; Teaching of Creative Writing; Creative Nonfiction; Contemporary American Fiction
"The Other Life"--Quarterly West (2014)
"Kate's World"--Chicago Tribune Printers Row Journal (2013)
"Smushing Seed Ideas Together" (in Writing Exercises by Today's Best Writers and Teachers, Tarcher, 2006)
"Some Other Time, Not This Time" (Chicago Tribune Book World, Special Supplement, 2005) Nelson Algren Award Winner
"Doe Season" Anthologized in Arguing Through Life (McGraw-Hill, 2005) and in Contemporary Fiction (Simon and Schuster, 2004)
"Dream Boy" (TriQuarterly, 2004) Illinois Arts Council Literary Award
"The El" (Five Points, 2003) Anthologized in Chicago Works (Norton, 2004)
Rewriting (a revised version of below, A&C Black, England, 1998)
Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction (non-fiction, Story Press, 1997)
Skating in the Dark (novel, Pantheon, 1991)
Luna Park (novel)