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COCA Spotlight: Bob Shacochis “The work of words: Author Bob Shacochis talks endurance”

By: Amanda Sieradzki, COCA | April 09, 2018

Truthfully, writer Bob Shacochis would rather be fishing, whether it’s puttering out on Florida’s Gulf or casting for rainbow trout up in the Rocky Mountains, dogs in tow.

Even with a writing career spanning decades in journalism and fiction, Shacochis says there is still no guarantee that he is even a writer, though he’ll return as an author for this year’s Word of South Festival.

“I sit down, turn on the computer, and maybe something comes and maybe something doesn’t,” says Shacochis. “It’s like laying bricks and it shouldn’t be any more glorified than that. Just do the work. If it needs to be better, then go back and make it better, but you can’t just sit around and wait for inspiration.”

Shacochis feels as if he lives in relative anonymity in spite of an illustrious come as easy as it once did, and yet he writes. Unfurling thousand page novels gives him no satisfaction when he wishes he could churn out three 100-page books in the same amount of time, and yet he writes.

He writes in a style that is “maximalist, dense, lush, acrobatic, and gymnastic.” He writes with a kind of “literary texture” that Shacochis says some find “delicious” while others find it “indigestible.”

Yet, at odds with this apathy towards talking about himself as a writer, a quick Google search reveals he has written since elementary school, concocting and performing one-act plays. He attended the first high school to offer a creative writing course, worked at that school’s newspaper, and was encouraged to continue writing after meeting Joseph Heller, author of “Catch-22,” as a freshman in journalism at the University of Missouri.

Shacochis earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. His first short-story collection, “Easy in the Islands,” received the National Book Award for First Fiction, and his second collection “The Next New World” was awarded the Prix de Rome from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Shacochis’ most recent novel, “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul,” won the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. As a journalist and war correspondent, Shacochis’ bylines span national publications.

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