Peter Selgin

Peter Selgin (CNF, Fiction, Non-Fiction) | Milledgeville, GA

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Peter Selgin is the author of Drowning Lessons (University of Georgia Press, 2008), winner of the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction; Life Goes to the Movies, a novel, two books on the craft of writing, and several children’s picture books. His memoir, Confessions of a Left-Handed Man: An Artist’s Memoir (University of Iowa Press, 2011), was short-listed for the 2012 William Saroyan International Prize; the title essay was selected for Best American Essays 2006. He has had a dozen notable essay citations in BAE anthologies. His essay, “My New York: A Romance in Eight Parts,” was chosen by Paul Theroux for inclusion in Best American Travel Writing, 2014. His stories and essays have appeared in the Missouri Review, Colorado Review, Boulevard, Glimmer Train, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction,, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Sun, and other publications. Other honors include the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize, a Dana Award for the Essay, the Faulkner Society Award for Best Novel, and a Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference Award for his play, “A God in the House,” based on Dr. Kevorkian and his suicide machine. His latest memoir, The Inventors, was published in April, 2016. He teaches creative writing at Georgia College & State University and is an affiliate faculty member of Antioch University’s low-residency MFA writing program in Los Angeles.


The Inventors: A memoir (Hawthorne Books and Literary Arts, 2016), First runner-up, AWP Award for Nonfiction. CNF. Memoir.
Confessions of a Left-Handed Man: An Artist’s Memoir (University of Iowa Press / Sightline Books, 2011). CNF. Memoir/Essays.
The Man Who Lived Alone (“L’uomo che viveva da sola”), illustrated by, Daniela Tordi (Falzea Editore, Italy, 2010). Children’s Picture Book.

179 Ways to Save a Novel: Matters of Vital Concern to Fiction Writers (Writers Digest Books, 2010). Non-Fiction. Textbook.
By Cunning & Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers (Writers Digest Books, 2007). Non-Fiction. Textbook.
Drowning Lessons (U of Georgia Press, 2008). Winner, Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, 2007. Finalist, Iowa Fiction Awards, 2005. Fiction. Short Stories.

Life Goes to the Movies (Dzanc Books, 2009). Winner AWP Award for the Novel, 2008, Second Place, AWP Award for the Novel, 2007, Finalist, James Jones First Novel Prize, 2005. Fiction. Stories.
S. S. Gigantic Across the Atlantic, children’s book, illustrated by author (Simon & Schuster, 1999). First Scholastic Edition, 2000, Winner, Helen Lemme Award, 2000. Children’s Picture Book.

Press & Reviews

Peter Selgin is a born writer, capable of taking any subject and exploring it from a new angle, with wit, grace, and erudition.
—Oliver Sacks

The Inventors is a philosophical memoir that grapples with some of the questions regarding how we invent ourselves and how we in turn are invented by others, particularly our mentors. Thanks to Selgin’s autobiographical candor and the vivid details of his telling, these puzzles of identity seem as fresh, engaging, and befuddling as they were when they first bubbled to the surface of our thinking. A smart, tender, compelling book.
—Billy Collins, author of Aimless Love

Peter Selgin’s intricately woven memoir, The Inventors, offers a unique, engaging, and occasionally startling examination of how childhood influences bend and shape us into being. Selgin’s candor and intimacy bring to vivid life the Zen koan of how we become the people we become and how we somehow never really know who we are.
—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire

Only a writer as gifted and insightful as Peter Selgin could have produced this deeply compelling story of two brilliant but extraordinarily deceitful men and the complicated relationships he shared with them. A superb work of memory that unfolds like a great suspense novel.
—Sigrid Nunez author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag

Peter Selgin’s The Inventors is brilliant, brave and compelling and inventive all at once. This is an intimately intimate rendering not just of Selgin’s coming of age, but indeed his rebirth into a new life of cognitive thought, of making sense of a perplexing world, of inventing out of blood and abstract ideas and hidden histories who, exactly, he is. This is an intelligent and moving book, a gorgeous book, an important book.
—Bret Lott, author of Dead Low Tide

This story is about what we make and how we make it. Selves, lives, love stories, life stories, death stories. It is also the story of how creation and destruction are always the other side of each other. And like the lyric language so gorgeously invented in this book that it nearly killed me, its meanings are endlessly in us. Writers live within language, and so in some ways, you might say we are at the epicenter.
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and The Small Backs of Children

In The Inventors, Peter Selgin unrolls the blueprint of his life, investigating how two men—his father and a charismatic middle school teacher—helped create the man he is today. Lyrical, honest and (dare I say?) inventive, The Inventors is a deeply compelling meditation on how we make and remake ourselves throughout our lives—choice by choice, action by action, word by glorious, slippery word.
—Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds

Peter Selgin’s The Inventors is a remarkable study in remembering, in empathy, and most of all in reckoning.”
—Kyle Minor, author of Praying Drunk

I have never read anything like The Inventors, Peter Selgin’s incomparable, brilliant, and achingly human memoir. With this deceptively simple story of the author’s relationships with two self-invented figures—his father, and an influential teacher—and with his own younger self—Selgin has produced a deep core sample of the human condition. Like William Blake, he finds a whole world in a few grains of sand. He has shown, in language remarkably beautiful and accessible, how we are invented, by the people who profess to love and care for us, and by our complicit selves. I was profoundly moved reading this book, by its deep intelligence, its constant sweet, knowing humor, and the recognition in it of myself and everyone I have ever loved.
—Peter Nichols, author of The Rocks and A Voyage for Madmen

Peter Selgin writes brilliantly about our mindfulness and forgetting – the necessary inventions and reinventions that help us live. The lies of his father and his eighth grade teacher inevitably enter into this intricate portrait of inner and outer selves. As he inhabits their action, talk, and thought, he teaches and fathers himself. In language most rare for its transparency, Mr. Selgin reminds his readers of the difference between artifice and the genuine. In these remarkable pages, he has become one of the truest of our writers.
—Carol Frost, author of Honeycomb

A reflective investigation of the self, memory, and invention.

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