John Dalton | UMSL
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John Dalton

john daltonJohn Dalton is the author of the novel Heaven Lake, winner of the Barnes and Noble 2004 Discover Award in fiction and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His second novel, The Inverted Forest, was published in 2011 and selected as a best book of the year by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Wall Street Journal - Book Lover. John is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has held fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and The MacDowell Colony.

Book Publications
The Inverted Forest: a novel (Scribner, 2011)Heaven Lake: a novel (Scribner, 2004)

heaven lake   inverted forest 

Journal Publications
Story, Western Humanities Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Boulevard

Non-Fiction Publications
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Washington Post, Boulevard

John Dalton Online: 
Read an excerpt from The Inverted Forest

Courses John Dalton Teaches:

Graduate Courses:
English 5110: Graduate Workshop in Fiction
English 5130: Graduate Workshop in the Novel
English 5170: Techniques, Methods, and Effects in Fiction
English 5190: Literary Journal Editing (Natural Bridge)
English 5200: MFA Readings
English 5950: 21st Century Fiction
English 6000: MFA Thesis

Undergraduate Courses:
English 2040: Introduction to the Writing of Fiction
English 3040: Fiction Writing Workshop: Narrative Techniques
English 4140: Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop


John Dalton on Teaching MFA Workshops

"The most valuable thing I can offer a workshop student is also the most practical: A lucid and critically objective assessment of what's working in the manuscript and what's not. To do this, I need to read and edit the story carefully and compose a written response. I understand from my own days as a student writer that it's an anxiety-provoking act to offer up a piece of writing for workshop. As a workshop instructor, I want my students to feel that their brightest achievements have been described and recognized. And I also want them to arrive at a clear and practical understanding of those elements within the story that are not yet working or need careful adjustment."


Recommended Novels and Story Collections

John's list of recommended books published since the start of the century: 
(*Indicates books that he has taught in his Techniques, Methods, and Effects in Fiction course, or his MFA Readings course.)

  •  
  • The Maze at Windermere - Gregory Blake Smith (2018)
  • Manhattan Beach - Jennifer Egan (2017)
  • Golden Hill - Francis Spufford (2017)
  • News of the World - Paulette Jiles* (2016)
  • Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi* (2016)
  • The Vegetarian - Han Kang* (2016)
  • The Underground Railroad* - Colson Whitehead (2016)
  • The Nix - Nathan Hill* (2016)
  • Behold The Dreamers* - Imbolo Mbue (2016)
  • The North Water - Ian McGuire (2016)
  • The Throwback Special - Chris Bachelder (2016)
  • Fates And Furies - Lauren Groff (2015)
  • of Speculation* - Jenny Offill (2014)
  • The Book of Strange New Things* - Michael Faber (2014)
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan (2013)
  • The Bone Clocks* - David Mitchell  (2014)
  • Station Eleven* - Emily St. John Mandel (2014)
  • All the Light We Cannot See* - Anthony Doerr (2014)
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves* - Karen Joy Fowler (2014)
  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour* - Joshua Ferris (2014)
  • Americanah* - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi  (2013)
  • The Love Affairs of Nathanial P*. - Adelle Waldman (2013)
  • Life After Life* - Kate Atkinson (2013)
  • The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer (2013)
  • The Goldfinch - Donna Tart (2013)
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena* - Anthony Marra (2013)
  • Harvest - Jim Crace (2013)
  • Tenth of December - George Saunders (2013)
  • The Orchardist* - Amanda Coplin (2012)
  • The Patrick Melrose Novels - Edward St. Aubyn (2012)
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette?* - Maria Semple (2012)
  • The Orphan Master's Son* - Adam Johnson (2012)
  • The Fault in Our Stars* - John Green (2012)
  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy* - Margot Livesey(2012)
  • The Marriage Plot* - Jeffrey Eugenides (2011)
  • State of Wonder* - Ann Patchett (2011)
  • Gryphon - Charles Baxter (2011)
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad* - Jennifer Egan (2010)
  • The Tiger's Wife* - Tea Obreht (2011)
  • The Disappeared - Kim Echlin (2010)
  • The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman* (2010)
  • Model Home* - Eric Puchner (2010)
  • Galveston - Nic Pizzolatto (2010)
  • Freedom - Jonathan Franzen (2010)
  • A Gate at the Stairs - Lorrie Moore (2009)
  • Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned* - Wells Tower (2009)
  • Tinkers* - Paul Harding (2009)
  • Olive Kitteridge* - Elizabeth Strout (2008)
  • Sway - Zachary Lazar (2008)
  • Outlander - Gil Adamson (2008)
  • America America - Ethan Canin (2008)
  • The Pesthouse - Jim Crace (2007)
  • On Chesil Beach* - Ian McEwan (2007)
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Michael Chabon (2007)
  • The Post-Birthday World - Lionel Shriver (2007)
  • Then We Came to the End* - Joshua Ferris (2007)
  • Black Swan Green* - David Mitchell (2006)
  • The Road - Cormac McCarthy (2006)
  • Never Let Me Go* - Kazou Ishiguro (2005)
  • Music Through the Floor* - Eric Puchner (2005)
  • Saturday - Ian McEwan (2005)
  • Cloud Atlas* - David Mitchell (2004)
  • Runaway - Alice Munro (2004)
  • Case Histories - Kate Atkinson (2004)
  • You Remind Me of Me* - Dan Chaon (2004)
  • Drinking Coffee Elsewhere* - ZZ Packer (2003)
  • The Crimson Petal and the White - Michael Faber (2003)
  • A Ship Made of Paper - Scott Spencer (2003)
  • The Known World - Edward P. Jones (2003)
  • Atonement* - Ian McEwan (2002)
  • Among the Missing - Dan Chaon (2001)
  • Bel Canto - Ann Patchett (2001)
  • The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen (2001)
  • Mystic River - Denis Lehane (2001)
  • The Love of a Good Woman - Alice Munro (2000)
  • Amy & Isabelle* - Elizabeth Strout (2000)
  • Feast of Love* - Charles Baxter (2000)
  • Being Dead* - Jim Crace (2000)
  • Plainsong* - Kent Haruf (2000)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon (2000)

John's list of favorite classic books:

  • In Cold Blood - Truman Capote (1966)
  • Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates (1962)
  • To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (1927)
  • Middlemarch - George Elliot (1874) 
  • Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (1877)
  • Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (1856)