CORVALLIS, Ore. -Award-winning short-story writer Jason Brown will be the first reader in the 2008-09 Visiting Writers Series at Oregon State University.

A reading and book signing will take place in OSU's Valley Library main rotunda on Friday, Oct. 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The title story of Brown's first short-story collection, "Driving the Heart and Other Stories," (W.W. Norton) was selected for Best American Short Stories. His second book, "Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work," (Open City/Grove Atlantic) is a book of loosely linked stories about the inhabitants of Vaughn, Maine. His short fiction has appeared widely in such places as The Atlantic, Harper's, TriQuarterly, KGB Anthology, and Selected Shorts on National Public Radio. He teaches in the MFA Program at University of Arizona.

Brown, a descendant of fishermen and sea captains, grew up in Maine, where he spent most of his summers on Macmahan Island in Sheepscott Bay. Brown's characters often seem to exist in physical proximity without ever really touching or communicating. His stories show the influence of two writers he names as favorites: they recall Anton Chekhov in their clarity and focus, and Raymond Carver in their ability to present the most desperate strata of society without judgment or condescension.

Time Out New York praised Brown for pushing his stories "beyond sturdy realism with an eerie grasp of the tensions between people and their assumptions (often wrong-headed) about each other." The Cleveland Plain Dealer cited the latest collection as "bordering on allegory...Like the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Brown's stories render the Gothic mysteries of Maine's forests, homing in on psychological evils...But as Sherwood Anderson did in Winesburg, Ohio, Brown also captures the pulse of rural life and its small, hidden disturbances."

The Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by the OSU English Department, The Valley Library, and The Office of the Provost.

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Keith Scribner,