Sanderson continues West Texas adventures in short story collection


Jim Sanderson, professor and chair of Lamar University’s Department of English and Modern Languages, has recently published a new collection of short stories, “Trashy Behavior,” through the Lamar University Press.

Sanderson decided to produce the collection after winning the Texas Institute of Letters’ Kay Cattarulla Award for Short Fiction in 2012 for the short story, “Bankers.”

“I had these other stories lying around, and I thought ‘Bankers’ could be the anchor for the collection,” Sanderson said. “Then the collection got published by my longtime friend and fellow writer, Jerry Craven, at the Lamar University Press.”

“Bankers” features a young character who runs into trouble while delivering his boss’s car and stems from Sanderson’s personal experiences.

“‘Bankers’ is one of the most autobiographical stories I have written, although the narrator, the protagonist, is nothing like me,” Sanderson said. “It is based on a lot of stuff that I encountered working at a bank in San Antonio in the late 60s and early 70s.”

With a total of eight short stories in the collection, Sanderson said the stories interconnect, sometimes through location, theme, or plot, such as the stories, “Playing Scared,” “Dee Price’s Story,” and “Pissed Away.” 

Sanderson notes that the collection’s title, “Trashy Behavior,” comes from “The Last Picture Show” in which one of the characters, Sam the Lion, states, “I’ve been around that trashy behavior all my life …,” collectively summing up the behavior of the old South. 

Sanderson plans to expand, “Divorce Laws,” the sixth story in the collection, into a novel for future release.

“The story is located in 1980’s Austin as the city is developing into what we now know as Austin and focuses on a former lawyer, who after his divorce, takes to spying on cheating spouses,” Sanderson said.

A Lamar faculty member for 25 years, Sanderson teaches fiction writing, and serves as writing director within the English department. A member of the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters, Sanderson is the author of 11 works total, including seven novels, a book of essays, a textbook and dozens of short stories and scholarly articles.

As a professor, Sanderson passes on advice accumulated from his experience as a writer.

“When I was a student, my mentor, Gordon Weaver, told me that writing fiction is not like riding a bicycle. You don’t just learn it and then do it all the time. Every time you start, there are different ways to begin,” Sanderson said. “It’s almost like learning how not to do stuff. When I teach students, I tell them it takes time and failure to know what to do.”

Among Sanderson’s writing awards are the Kenneth Patchen Prize for fiction, the Frank Waters Prize, the Violet Crown Award, and finalist for the 2010 Texas Institute of Letters’ Jesse Jones Award. Lamar has honored Sanderson as Distinguished Faculty Lecturer in 2002 and University Scholar in 2006.

Later this year, the Texas Christian University Press will publish Sanderson’s dark mystery, “Nothing to Lose,” chiefly set in Beaumont. The prequel to that novel, “Hill Country Property,” will be published by Livingston Press. The novel traces the development of central Texas from roughly the 1920s to the 1980s and involves the hero of “Divorce Laws” and “Massage Therapy,” the seventh story in the collection.

“Trashy Behavior” is currently available on Future releases will also be available on

(Lamar press release)