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Texas Institute of Letters honors Sanderson book as fiction finalist

Jim Sanderson, professor of English at Lamar University, is a finalist for the top fiction award to be presented at the 75th-anniversary meeting of the Texas Institute of Letters, Saturday, April 30, in Dallas.

Sanderson’s collection of short stories, “Faded Love,” will compete for the Jesse Jones Award for Fiction for best fiction by a Texan or about Texas for 2010. Ink Brush Press published the volume, whose title Sanderson derived from the Bob Wills song of the same name.

“Faded Love,” like many of Sanderson’s literary works, takes place deep in the heart of Texas. “As Hemingway said, ‘Write what you know,’ said Sanderson, who is also director of writing at Lamar. The story cycle follows an interconnected set of characters through hard living and missed opportunities in the pursuit of impossible dreams, with some of the characters showing up from Sanderson’s novels and his first short-story collection, “Semi-Private Rooms.”

“I can remember reading about the winners of the Texas Institute of Letters when I was 12 or 13 years old,”Sanderson said. “I thought winning one would be ‘cool.’ I also thought winning an Academy Award or Nobel prize for literature would be ‘cool.’ In college, I thought the Oscar and Nobel were just too foreign for the likes of me. So one out of three ain’t bad. And, to quote the cliche, it really is ‘an honor just to be nominated.’”

“More important, this is recognition from my peers, who know what I am trying to do with my writing. It also is especially important to my editor/publisher, Jerry Craven, and the Ink Brush Press. We need more small, struggling presses dedicated to publishing ‘good writing,’ especially when presses are closing or being corporatized.”

Other nominees for the Jesse Jones Award are Rich Bass, “Nashville Chrome” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Bruce Machart, “The Wake of Forgiveness” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); and Jan Reid, “Comanche Sundown” (TCU Press).

“The book and I are in good company,” Sanderson said.

The fiction awards are among about a dozen to be presented. Novelist and short-story writer C.W. Smith, a longtime member and former president, will accept the Lon Tinkle Award for his exemplary service to the organization and his accomplishments as a writer.

Texas Institute of Letters is the state’s oldest literary organization, founded in 1936 at the Texas Centennial in Dallas.