Adventures in Creative Nonfiction: The Stranger Than Fiction Reading Series


Writers Shelby Grazulis, Gina Divittorio, Alyson Eagan, Brandon Nizzio, Sandra Sepaniak, Luke Taylor, Dyren Blalock share their works.

By: Dyren Blalock

So… an English major, Marketing major and a couple Creative Writing minors walked into a bar one afternoon— well, actually it was a library, but the words spoken could have been inspired by Dionysus himself. The inaugural Stranger Than Fiction: A Flash Nonfiction Reading held on Friday, May 1st in the Malpass Library brought students, faculty, and the community together for an afternoon of true and astounding short stories. Seven authors shared their tales (each no more than 750 words) that covered everything from love and family to moments as simple as an awkward encounter and moments as complicated as losing ones virginity.

Each author approached the podium with a serene confidence. The audience sat quietly with eager ears, waiting to see if the “staggering astonishment” promised to them would come to fruition. The authors, however, did more than astonish the audience: they were captivating and refused to let go until the very last sentence.

For example, Luke Taylor’s piece entitled “Alarm Clock” focused on the humor (and sometimes horror) of trying to sleep when it seems like the rest of the world, including the family cat, wants to keep you awake. The audience empathized with the passionate author as they knew the feeling all too well. My flash nonfiction piece, which I titled the “The Manhood,” engaged listeners as I shifted from beautiful, to disturbing, to downright hilarious imagery while recounting my not-so-thrilling “first time”.

Every piece read was written with remarkable quality that was even more impressive considering the authors were all students who are still perfecting their craft. Writers Shelby Grazulis, Gina Divittorio, Alyson Eagan, Brandon Nizzio, Sandra Sepaniak, Luke Taylor, and myself closed the reading with a Q&A session where we answered the audience’s questions with the same honesty in which we wrote our creative nonfiction pieces. It sparked conversation about the idea of truth and the unique challenges of writing about real life that could be enjoyed by people from a variety of backgrounds and interests.

I encourage all to attend the next Stranger Than Fiction Reading to hear the amazing and real stories of students on campus in order to see that there is truly no greater plot twist than the natural turns of reality.