Best Local Writer (2010)

John Dufresne

John Dufresne is one of those great authors who write a lot about writing. And not just in his classic how-to books, such as Is Life Like This?, a step-by-step guide to writing a novel in six months, with chapters ingeniously broken into week-by-week advice for the aspiring wordsmith. No, even Dufresne's excellent fiction often treads into the meta territory of exploring the process itself. Take his latest work, 2008's Requiem, Mass, about a novelist named John who abandons his latest literary effort to write a memoir about his childhood in Massachusetts. If that sounds an awful lot like Dufresne's own upbringing, it is, yet he uses the structure of a novel to expand beyond self-reflection and to tell a touching, absurd, and ultimately beautiful story about the fictional author's life and his struggle to write it. So it should come as no surprise that Dufresne is awfully reflective about the process of putting words to the page. He has churned out two decades of great writers as a creative writing professor at Florida International University and travels the country teaching writing seminars to emerging authors. Every other Friday, Dufresne even holds free workshops at FIU to coach any young Hemingway who makes the drive. Dufresne not only writes magnificently but also makes other authors better every day.


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