- Tom Spanbauer
Tom Spanbauer is an American writer.
He studied creative writing with Gordon Lish at Columbia University. As a gay writer, he has explored issues of race, of sexual identity, of how we make a family for ourselves in order to surmount the limitations of the families into which we are born. He is the creator of the concept of Dangerous Writing.
"Dangerous Writing" is an approach to writing championed by Spanbauer. He teaches a fiction writing workshop by the same name in Portland; Chuck Palahniuk is probably Spanbauer's best-known student.
Dangerous Writing is a brand of minimalism that utilizes many literary techniques pioneered by Spanbauer and other Gordon Lish-influenced writers. The emphasis is on writing "dangerously" -- that is, writing what personally scares or embarrasses the author in order to explore and artistically express those fears honestly. Most "dangerous writing" is written in first-person narrative for this reason and deals with subjects such as cultural taboos.
On the surface, that may not seem like a dangerous or even daring act. But it is. When the words one believes to be the truth about oneself are actually written, they take on a power that is no longer exclusively controlled by the writer. The spin that could be applied when the ideas were merely in a person's mind or coming out of a person's mouth melt away. The words lay the heart bare for all to see. Those words become a separate entity, an unflinching, unvarnished document of the self.
- Amy Hempel's short story, "The Harvest," employs many of the minimalist concepts taught by Spanbauer in his workshop.
- Faraway Places (1989)
- The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon (1991)
- In The City Of Shy Hunters (2001)
- Now Is The Hour (2007)
Volume 1 of The Quarterly, published in the Spring of 1987, featured Spanbauer's "Sea Animals".
- Official site
- Review of In The City... at The Stranger.com
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.