Bret Anthony Johnston


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Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Remember Me Like This, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and the winner of the 2015 McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize. The book has been translated around the world and is being made into a major motion picture. Bret is also the author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times, and the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work appears in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Short Sto ...more

Average rating: 3.72 · 9,980 ratings · 1,379 reviews · 13 distinct worksSimilar authors
Remember Me Like This

3.63 avg rating — 7,139 ratings — published 2014 — 17 editions
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Naming the World: And Other...

4.14 avg rating — 405 ratings — published 2008 — 3 editions
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Corpus Christi

4.06 avg rating — 297 ratings — published 2004 — 9 editions
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Republican

4.71 avg rating — 7 ratings — published 2007
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A Different Country

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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Zoals ik was

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0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings
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The Best American Short Sto...

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3.84 avg rating — 1,806 ratings — published 2011 — 6 editions
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New Stories from the South ...

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4.02 avg rating — 157 ratings — published 2010 — 3 editions
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Six Shorts 2017: The finali...

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 79 ratings2 editions
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A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagi...

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3.90 avg rating — 73 ratings — published 2015 — 3 editions
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“The past was a bridge that looked solid and sturdy, but once you were on it, you saw that it extended only far enough to strand you, to suspend you between loss and longing with nowhere to go at all.”
Bret Anthony Johnston, Remember Me Like This

“EVERY WEDNESDAY, I teach an introductory fiction workshop at Harvard University, and on the first day of class I pass out a bullet-pointed list of things the students should try hard to avoid. Don’t start a story with an alarm clock going off. Don’t end a story with the whole shebang having been a suicide note. Don’t use flashy dialogue tags like intoned or queried or, God forbid, ejaculated. Twelve unbearably gifted students are sitting around the table, and they appreciate having such perimeters established. With each variable the list isolates, their imaginations soar higher. They smile and nod. The mood in the room is congenial, almost festive with learning. I feel like a very effective teacher; I can practically hear my course-evaluation scores hitting the roof. Then, when the students reach the last point on the list, the mood shifts. Some of them squint at the words as if their vision has gone blurry; others ask their neighbors for clarification. The neighbor will shake her head, looking pale and dejected, as if the last point confirms that she should have opted for that aseptic-surgery class where you operate on a fetal pig. The last point is: Don’t Write What You Know.

The idea panics them for two reasons. First, like all writers, the students have been encouraged, explicitly or implicitly, for as long as they can remember, to write what they know, so the prospect of abandoning that approach now is disorienting. Second, they know an awful lot. In recent workshops, my students have included Iraq War veterans, professional athletes, a minister, a circus clown, a woman with a pet miniature elephant, and gobs of certified geniuses. They are endlessly interesting people, their lives brimming with uniquely compelling experiences, and too often they believe those experiences are what equip them to be writers. Encouraging them not to write what they know sounds as wrongheaded as a football coach telling a quarterback with a bazooka of a right arm to ride the bench. For them, the advice is confusing and heartbreaking, maybe even insulting. For me, it’s the difference between fiction that matters only to those who know the author and fiction that, well, matters.”
Bret Anthony Johnston

“The strange and scattered pieces of ourselves we leave behind,”
Bret Anthony Johnston, Remember Me Like This

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