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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the authors of the winning and recommended stories free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Frederic Tuten
"Winter, 1965"
2016 O. Henry Award-winning Author

I'm honored to be included among the writers who have made up the distinguished history of the O. Henry Prize winners.

(author photo © Ania Gruca)


Writing Tips

Many of my thoughts about writing come from artists or from writers influenced by art.

Georges Simenon said: "An apple by Cézanne has weight. And it has juice, everything, with just three strokes. I tried to give to my words just the weight that a stroke of Cézanne's gave to an apple."

Gauguin said that when you go to make a drawing, hold the pencil light.

Poussin believed that a true line is closer to god than a cathedral. Actually, Poussin did not say that but I like to imagine that he would.

Picasso claimed he struggled all his life to be able to draw like a child again.

Roy Lichtenstein said, "The trouble is that when an artist goes to a canvas he or she already goes knowing what a work of art should look like."


Writer's Desk

The first part of my memoir—what I see as Volume 1—is about my growing up in the Bronx, and is centered around the year I dropped out of high school to become a painter and go to live in Paris. I never made it, at least not then.

It was in this year that I met the artist John Resko, a former twenty-year inmate of Dannermora and author of Reprieve, the memoir of his prison life and his rehabilitation. He became my mentor in literature and art and life, taking the place of my father, who had left our home when I was ten.

This is also the story of my wild teenage love for Faye, the "Bronx Elizabeth Taylor," and of my rivalry with Faye's other boyfriend, my contemporary, who would become a famous novelist and my life-long friend.

Resko pressed me to return to school, saying, "I have a high school equivalency degree and don't want to hang out with dropouts." I finally graduated, took the entrance exams, and was accepted to the City College of New York, and my life out of the Bronx began. One day I would see Paris, but not as an artist, as a writer.

I'm also writing a series of personal essays; some are about my love affair when I was nineteen in Mexico City with "the Golden Girl," the famous exiled American prostitute of her day; my time crashing Hemingway's house in Cuba a few months before Castro entered Havana; my two summers of team teaching in Tangiers with Paul Bowles; my friendships with the creator of Tintin, Georges Remi (Herge), and with the great film director, Alain Resnais; and my life in Mexico, Brazil, and in Paris.


About the Author

Frederic Tuten, Bronx born, has written about art, literature and film in several periodicals including Artforum, The New York Times, and Vogue; was an actor in the Alain Resnais movie L'An 01; taught with Paul Bowles in Morocco; and co-wrote the cult-classic film Possession. He earned a PhD in literature, three Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Award for Distinguished Writing from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tuten is the author of five novels: The Adventures of Mao on the Long March; Tintin in the New World; Tallien: A Brief Romance; Van Gogh's Bad Café; The Green Hour; and a book of inter-related short stories: Self Portraits: Fictions. He lives in New York City.


Writer's Desk

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