Austin Bunn's story collection takes us to 'The Brink'

Love, loss, birth and death. The biggest moments in our lives usually involve change. Sometimes welcome and other times unforeseen and extremely inconvenient, change is what propels life forward. However, how do you cope if change involves reaching the edge of the world or ending your own life? In his debut book, “The Brink,” Austin Bunn creates a collection of short stories that deal with “world-shattering change.”

In “The Brink,” Bunn, assistant professor in performing and media arts, weaves autobiographical threads with fiction to develop short stories about “moments of end time experiences, annihilation and worlds collapsing.” Offering a range of stories and voices, Bunn provides his own narrative take on how to navigate difficult situations and remain resilient when everything is crumbling around you.

Some stories in “The Brink” include an autobiographical piece about a young man who uses information from a course on nuclear war to keep his parents from divorcing; a couple on their honeymoon in Bali amid a string of terrorist attacks; and the last three days of a Heaven’s Gate cult member’s life just as he begins to fall in love. While each story has its own narrative, collectively they all focus on core themes of large-scale change and transformation.

Some of the stories in “The Brink” began as seedlings while Bunn studied fiction writing at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He also drew upon his love of short story collections and was inspired by the Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad” and Adam Haslett’s “You Are Not a Stranger Here.”

Bunn hopes that by reading “The Brink” people will rediscover the pleasure of reading. He believes, “short stories should have lots of rewards in them; they should be funny, fast moving and give you a lot to think about,” and feels his book is “a quality piece of literature people can enjoy.” 

Taylor Halcromb ’15 is a government major in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Austin Bunn