Join me and Yvette Benavides in this live, two-hour class and discover the Five Things We’ve Learned about the joys of returning to our favorite stories and short-story writers. We’ll look again at the works of three great masters, and at the ways that re-experiencing a familiar story shapes both the art we encounter and the art we create.

I’m back with my third (what?), yes, third class for My Five Things…I’m a little shocked the good people at My Five Things are having back in the first place. I’m a happy three timer. I do come fairly cheap. Maybe they are having some financial trouble? Anyway. What’s that line of Paul Simon’s on “Graceland”? Who am I to blow against the wind?

Therefore, to honor this unprecedented occasion: I want this third class to be something special, something different. I did one on how to write by not writing, and another on paragraphs. Paragraphs? (I guess you had to have been there.) This time I’ve decided to cut to the chase and do a Five Things on my absolute first love: RE-READING and RE-RE READING.

You know how as a kid you wanted to hear the same book over and over and over and your parents were like no, no, please not Are You My Mother?. (Maybe you are this parent or have been this parent in the first place.) What do you think was going on there? It wasn’t because you as a kid wanted to know what happened in the story, right? You knew what happened. Doesn’t it have something to do with the pure ecstasy of knowing a story already? And doesn’t knowing a story already, in some strange way, allow you to re-experience additional times in entirely new ways?

Nowadays when I think of re-reading, I think of stories. I think of certain stories dear to my own heart, stories I’ve read countless times and still I can’t get to the bottom of their power.

And because re-reading stories is so close to my heart and soul, I’ve asked a fellow lover of stories, Yvette Benavides, to join me. Yvette and I co-host a podcast for Texas Public Radio called The Lonely Voice. On this show, we geek out about some of the greatest stories we know and broadcast out to story lovers in Texas and beyond. 

Now: Yvette and I have teamed up with Five Things I’ve Learned to bring you an on-line class on re-reading featuring three of our very favorite writers and three of our very favorite stories. We’ll be re-reading the short story masters: Alice Munro (“The Children Stay”), Edna O’Brien (“The Doll”), and Gina Berriault (“The Infinite Passion of Expectation”) with an eye toward what five or six or seventeen things we’ve gleaned from the process of re-examining stories that have become as familiar to us as our own memories. These stories teach us a hell of a lot about: writing, reading, and sweet Jesus life itself. We’ll reach back to the very beginning and examine how this time-honored and beautifully child-like impulse to re-experience a story can and does impact our own art.

Please join us for a closer look at three marvelous writers and three utterly unforgettable stories…

– Peter Orner