University News

Debut collection explores themes of identity and place

English Journalism Provost's Office
April 1, 2019

GRANVILLE, Ohio—Michael Croley, author and associate professor of English at Denison University, explores issues of identity and displacement in his debut collection of short stories, Any Other Place.

Thirteen engaging stories introduce characters who find themselves, wherever they are, in states of displacement. From rural Appalachia to a village in South Korea, Croley guides his characters to some semblance of home, as they circle each other’s pain, struggle to find belonging, and make sense of the mistakes and bad breaks that have brought them there.

In Any Other Place, Croley explores the tension of leaving home and living between two worlds. Croley taps into his own childhood in Appalachia with a Korean mother and an Appalachian father as he explores issues of identity and place. “In a certain point in my writing life, I understood that I was always writing about these themes,” he says.

Many of his first stories involved young men who left Appalachia and felt conflicted about it in similar ways to how Croley felt when he left the region. “You try to escape those places, but you can’t because they’re still going to shape you,” he says.

For Croley, some narratives came easier than others. One of the stories in the book, “Satellites,” was a breakthrough for him. “It helped me see what I needed to do more of in my work and how I needed to push my stories to a certain degree,” he says. “Every story after that became different and I had a better understanding of pacing.”

Like all writers, Croley is always working on something. Right now, he is working on a novel as well as publishing other stories. “The busier I am, the better writer I am,” Croley says. “I’m trying to tell as many stories as I can as true as I can.” 

Any Other Place will be out April 23. It is available for pre-order from local bookstores and Amazon.

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