Robert Garner McBrearty of Louisville, Colorado, is the winner of the 2007 Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award, for his three stories that are part of a book in-progress. Episode was previously published in North American Review, Teach Us was first published in Narrative Magazine, and The Bike is his most recent story.
"Of the many fiction entries in the Writer's Grant competition this year, we think McBrearty's writing is especially noteworthy for its blend of humor and pathos, and brings to American fiction many of the same strengths as Sherwood Anderson's writing," said Michael Spear, president of the Sherwood Anderson Foundation.
Episode serves as the title story for his new collection of stories and describes a young man's attempt to care for his bipolar brother. McBrearty says, "It's also about the way the past haunts us, and the different ways we interpret the past." For Teach Us, McBrearty drew from his days of working as an attendant at a mental hospital. The Bike explores a couple's way of dealing with grief.
McBrearty started writing as a teenager and in his early twenties moved to Mexico to write and study, earning a living by teaching English. A few years later, he graduated from the Iowa Writer's Workshop and shortly after his stories began to appear in such major literary publications as: The Pushcart Prize anthology, StoryQuarterly, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, New England Review, North American Review and Narrative. "A lot of those earlier stories were written late at night after working another job, or at dawn when the kids were small," he says. "I'd tried to write before they woke up." He often draws from his upbringing in Texas and the many varied odd jobs he's had. He lives with his wife and two sons, and teaches writing at the University of Colorado.
Publisher's Weekly noted this about his first book A Night at the Y: "The modern day Walter Mittys of these 12 humorous stories shuffle carefully from their humdrum existences into wider, more exhilarating, often quite humorous worlds." The Chicago Tribune said, "What threads through McBrearty's work is a humaneness toward his characters and a gentle, sometimes sad irony that pervades their world views." The collection was also featured in the 2001 Writer's Digest Novel and Short Story Writer's Market.
McBrearty's work has also been used frequently at large public readings at Stories on Stage in Denver and at the Dallas Museum of Art. "I love the direct connection with the audience," he says.
The award is "immensely helpful, both financially and in the way it boosts the writing morale. It's a tremendous reaffirmation. I believe it will inspire my work for many years to come." Currently, he is completing a collection of stories and two novels-in-progress.
You can see more of his work at his website http://www.robertgarnermcbrearty.com/.