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Alumni

Bruce Holland Rogers: A short, short, short, biography

February 27, 2009

Bruce Holland Rogers ('82) followed a collegiate path that many students follow: he was a member of the Major of the Month club. Originally starting out as a double major in Zoology and Technical Journalism, Rogers took a stab at English and then History before pulling it all together under a Humanities degree.

Thirteen ways to Water and other storiesOne sentence at a time

As a student, Rogers spent a lot of time reading and writing for his creative writing classes and for himself. He tasked himself with doing literary translations from Spanish and some German, French, and Portuguese. In doing so, Rogers learned quite a bit. “I learned a lot about how to compose stories in English by translating stories line by line. Translation made me slow down and notice how a story is built one sentence at a time. Translation made me notice how carefully the reader’s impressions are built up, word by word, in a good story,” he says.

Building stories word by word is what Rogers has been doing professionally since 1991. Rogers’ stories are typically categorized as fantasy or science fiction, though he eschews the labeling. “There is something that I don’t like about fantasy or science fiction, which is that they tend to be parked somewhere outside of the main literary conversation.” And yet for Rogers, the genres offer the ability to convey a message that literary fiction can’t. “[Fantasy and science fiction] sometimes capture our emotional realities better than mimetic or 'realistic' fiction can. The language of a fairy tale indicates right from the first lines that we’re going to consider weighty matters with enough distance from our ordinary concerns to let us, perhaps, experience them deeply,” he shares.

Numerous awards

Regardless of the literary category, Rogers has won numerous awards for his stories in the past 15 years. Some of his honors include the 2006 World Fantasy Award for best collection published in 2005 (The Keyhole Opera), 2004 World Fantasy Award for best short fiction published in 2003 (“Don Ysidro”), the Pushcart Prize in 1999 (“The Dead Boy at your Window”), the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction in 1998 (“The Dead Boy at your Window”), the Nebula Award for Best Short Story of 1998 (“Thirteen Ways to Water”), and the Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy novelette of 1996 (Lifeboat on a Burning Sea).

What's next

Rogers has a variety of writing projects at hand. His current project is a novel, Steam, about the interrelatedness of manic depression, steam locomotives, and the futures market. He’ll continue to produce 36 short-short stories a year, which he sends to readers via his website www.shortshortshort.com. “I write because I think that writing can heal the writer and the reader, and life wounds us pretty continually,” he says.

Rogers is also an instructor with the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA in Washington state, the first MFA in creative writing that isn’t affiliated with a college or university. Rogers now lives in London, having moved there with his wife, Holly, who teaches at the London Business School.

This article was originally published in AlumLine newsletter. To subscribe to AlumLine, become a member of the CSU Alumni Association.


Contact: Beth Etter
Phone: (970) 491-6533