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Off Campus Writers' Workshop - OCWW

Caitlin Horrocks: Shell Games,with Jennifer Egan Joining for Q and A After the Break

  • March 03, 2022
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Remote


Registration is closed

Special Zoom Only Session

Hermit crabs evolved to live inside the discarded, scavenged shells of other creatures; as the crustaceans grow, they switch between shells, looking for the right size and shape to armor their fragile bodies. The relevance to writing?  “Hermit crab” is the most common name for stories or essays that borrow the “shells” of ordinary, everyday documents like job applications, surveys, instruction manuals, recipes, school essays, and more. A story in the shape of a restaurant review or a police report can be hilarious or harrowing or anything in between. Using shells in our writing offers the writer a powerful blend of structure, inspiration, surprise, and built-in tension, as fiction presses against the conventions of traditionally nonfictional, formulaic documents. We’ll explore how writing within such constraints can shape a difficult subject or refresh a familiar one, for both writer and reader. Session will include sample readings, discussion, and creative exercises.

Caitlin Horrocks is author of the story collections Life Among the Terranauts and This is Not Your City, both New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice titles, and the novel The Vexations, named one of the 10 best books of 2019 by the Wall Street Journal. Her stories and essays appear in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prize, The Paris Review, Tin HouseOne Story, and other journals and anthologies. Former fiction editor of the Kenyon Review, she teaches at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.


Jennifer Egan (photo credit Pieter M Van Hattem) is the author of several novels and a short story collection.  Her most recent novel, Manhattan Beach, a New York Times bestseller, was awarded the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and was chosen as New York City’s One Book One New York read.  Her previous novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles 

We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at for details.

9-9:30 Socializing 

9:30-12 Program 

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