Weston Cutter, assistant professor of English at Northwestern College, has published his first book of fiction. You’d Be a Stranger, Too, a collection of short stories, was released by BlazeVox Books in December.
Cutter will read from the book at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 28, in Orange City’s Old Factory Coffee Shop. The public is invited to attend.
The book, which is available at Amazon.com and other online sites, is a compilation of 19 stories written by Cutter while he lived in Minneapolis, Europe, New York City and Virginia. He describes writing them as “an attempt to not be so lonely.
“One of the connecting threads,” says Cutter, “is that a lot of the stories are located in Harrison, which is based on St. Peter, Minn., where I went to college. Everything in Harrison is named after something or someone I know.”
The stories include “Facts of the Mississippi,” which describes relationships that develop as a group of friends spend winter nights following a new band in South Minneapolis, and “Model for a Square,” which tells of the untimely death of an artist’s model and mistress. In “Red Leaves,” Cutter sets a father’s aging in the context of the changing seasons.
“Here’s a collection of stories rich with the mysteries of language and strange twists of heart and mind, and grounded by the writer’s eye for the particularities of time and place,” says Ed Falco, author of St. John of the Five Boroughs. “Cutter is a massive talent.”
Deb Olin Unferth, author of Vacation and Minor Robberies, describes Cutter’s writing as “passionate, searching and inspired.” Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemoncake and Willful Creatures, says his stories are “built from carved, chiseled and finely-wrought sentences. [His] hand with prose is deft and at times dazzling.”
Cutter, who joined Northwestern’s faculty in 2009 after completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Virginia Tech, says he feels compelled or impelled to write. “The stories are me answering ‘what-if’ questions, or pursuing things I really wanted to see on a page.
“Seeing the book in print made me feel really excited and also responsible to those who helped me become who I am,” he says. “I don’t want to squander the gifts I’ve been given by God, my family, friends and professors.”
Many of the stories in You’d Be a Stranger, Too were previously published in literary journals such as Washington Square and Boston Review. Cutter also has had poems, essays, book reviews and interviews with writers and musicians published in numerous journals and magazines. He received a $2,500 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize last year, and his poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four years in a row. The editor of a book review website, Corduroy Books, he was included in “Best New Poets 2008.”
A Minnesota native, Cutter earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Gustavus Adolphus College. He teaches creative and nonfiction writing at Northwestern and also advises the Beacon student newspaper.