Description of the project

This project is based on True Tales of American Life, a collection of very short stories that Paul Auster received and read out in a program on National Public Radio:

“The stories had to be true, and they had to be short, but there would be no restrictions as to subject matter or style. What interested me most, I said, were stories that defied our expectations about the world, anecdotes that revealed the mysterious and unknowable forces at work in our lives, in our family histories, in our minds and bodies, in our souls. In other words, true stories that sounded like fiction. I was talking about big things and small things, tragic things and comic things, any experience that felt important enough to set down on paper… With their work, I said, I was hoping to put together an archive of facts, a museum of American reality” (xiv)

He received over 4,000 stories, selected some that he read out on the air for months, and finally chose over 150 that he published in True Tales of American Life.

Following Auster’s example, students of mine both at the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Santander and the Universidad de Cantabria had to read eight original “Tales of American life” (selected by the teacher), choose a favourite and explain the reasons for their selection. After a class discussion, they had to write their own “Slice of Life” (autobiographical, short, and otherwise unconstrained), which, after teacher’s review, was uploaded on the class website.

The project ended with the reading and discussion of all the stories in class. The results of the project have been very encouraging and rewarding: the interactive process of reading, writing and peer assessment has helped the students to internalize the various facets of the reading-writing process probably better than any theoretical class could.

In the following posts, you can find “Slices of Life” written by students from the courses taught during the years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014, as well as six stories from Auster's original project and two written by myself to be used as models. Thanks to all the students who were ready to share a “slice” of their life with everybody else.

Jesús Ángel González,