The Cincinnati literary scene suffered a loss last summer when Brock Clarke moved to Portland, Maine, to take a job teaching creative writing at Bowdoin College. Through his work as a writer (via two short-story collections and three novels, including 2007's well-received An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England) and educator (he taught creative writing at UC where he brought in such guest speakers/authors as Chris Bachelder, Sam Lipsyte, Heidi Julavits and Jonathan Lethem), Clarke was a one-man literary juggernaut who produced, nurtured and promoted the written word with unwavering commitment, creativity and good taste.
Now for the good news: word is that the aforementioned Bachelder will be filling Clarke's vacated spot at UC this fall. Long a favorite writer of Clarke's and fans of crafty post-modern fiction everywhere, Bachelder will no doubt bring a unique perspective to his students — in addition to his three novels, the most recent of which, Abbott Awaits, was published in March, the 40-year-old author has long been affiliated with two of the better literary magazines around (McSweeney's and The Believer), was an early champion of e-books (see 2004's Lessons in Virtual Tour Photography) and has taught at variety of schools (most recently at the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts). He joins an already impressive UC English department that includes Michael Griffith, whose new novel, Trophy, will be published next week. (Click here to read my recent interview with Griffith.)
I interviewed Bachelder in 2007 when Clarke brought him to town to discuss his novel U.S.!, a hilarious political satire that exhumes muckraking depression-era writer Upton Sinclair because, in the words of Bachelder, “I wanted to write a political novel that was also a novel about political novels.”
Besides being funny and smart (especially about the state of contemporary fiction), he was (and presumably still is) uncommonly genial and accommodating.
Sweet hire, UC.