Matthew Vollmer, assistant professor in the Department of English at Virginia Tech, has just published his second book this year thanks to a Literature Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts.

This prestigious $25,000 fellowship provided the time and resources to write two books so quickly. Vollmer said his recent works emerged from his efforts to make each class a new experience for his students.

“As a professor, I use the opportunity to teach creative writing as a way to look at art,” Vollmer said. “And I am as inspired by what happens in the classroom as by what happens outside of it.”

Vollmer’s most recent release, “Fakes,” hit the shelves in October. He describes it as an anthology of stories from renowned authors that masquerade as other forms of writing. Vollmer and his co-author David Shields contend that they’ve gathered 40 short fictions that they’ve found to be seriously hilarious and irresistibly teachable.

Released earlier this year, “Inscriptions for Headstones” is a collection of 30 autobiographical essays that take the form of one-sentence epitaphs. This book came directly from one of Vollmer’s class assignments and he ran with and expanded the idea to produce it.

The New York Times declared Vollmer’s stories to be "expertly structured and utterly convincing, (and) represent the arrival of a strong new voice."

“Instead of writing a single, pithy generalization of my life,” Vollmer said, “I zeroed in on highly specific moments and allowed myself to digress, to wander, and explore.”

A native of Andrews, N.C., Vollmer earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of North Carolina, a master of arts in English from North Carolina State University, and a master of fine arts in fiction writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.



Written by Chris Bonelli of Mechanicsville, Va., a junior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
Share this story