Professor of English
Department of English
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 259
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
I teach a variety of fiction and non-fiction courses. My favorite of these is Literary Journalism; I'm always awed by what many students are able to produce in this genre. I like to watch students learn to tell stories that expand their vision of their own communities, and their own lives. Our students usually end up teaching me more than I can teach them. This semester my students have opened up my mind to fantasy and science fiction. They've gracefully dismantled what was left of my snobbery regarding those genres. Students have also taught me to appreciate graphic novels, and one day I hope to teach a course in this again.
I'm the author of four books, Director of the World and other stories, which won the Drue Heinz prize, One Heart, a novel, Thank You For the Music, a second book of stories, and First You Try Everything, another novel. My fiction and non-fiction has been awarded pushcarts, and an NEA. I just completed another novel which is currently being considered by HarperCollins, and am at work on a few essays. I've done a lot of work with the photographer Charlee Brodsky, exploring the relationship between the verbal and visual, taking on topics such as mental illness, and the transformation of the old steel town known as Homestead. "From Milltown to Malltown," published in 2010, features Charlee's photos and poems by Jim Daniels and myself.
I have a keen interest in all the world's religions, and once taught a course called The Literature of Mysticism. I would like to do so again, when life slows down a bit, and when I feel as though I have more knowledge in this field. That's really where my heart is.