Inspired by questions: Danielle Evans and Mary Ruefle read at Writers Here and Now

Shannon Mooney
Online Editor

For fiction writer Danielle Evans, the difference between a short story and a novel is simple.

“It’s the difference between a one-night stand and a marriage,” Evans told a group of Writers’ House students during a Q&A session on Wednesday.

Students were able to ask Evans about her writing processes and her work, especially her collection of short stories titled “Before You Suffocate Your Own Full Self.”

Evans explained that her stories are usually inspired by a question about how or why something could come to pass.

Evans, who currently teaches at American University, was accompanied by poet Mary Ruefle.

“If I go into a story with an answer then I can’t finish it, generally,” she said. “The stuff that interests me is the stuff that doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer.”

Evans read an excerpt from a new book that she is currently working on. The passage told the story of two sisters and their journeys through adolescence, with a focus on sex and childhood experience.

Then Ruefle, who currently works in the MFA program at Vermont College, took the stage and read some of her poems and one of her short essays, that compared how trash and people are both buried. Her work contained quirky and humorous lines and the audience laughed during almost every piece.

Ruefle concluded the night with a letter written by her elderly great-aunt to her parents in 1978.

The rather depressing letter described her great-aunt’s days spent in solitude, and the way in which she saw writing letters as the sole way she was able to “visit” her family and preserve her memory.

“[The letter] proves that writing is a companion not only for those who write literarily, but for those everywhere who can write,” she said.

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