Thomas Larson Vita Print E-mail

large past1987 Surfing-on-Acid 0Thomas Wallin Larson



Masters of Arts in English and American literature from the University of California, San Diego, 1986.

Graduate courses in music at the University of California, San Diego, 1982 and 1983.

Bachelor of Music, University of New Mexico, 1982.


Faculty (retired), Ashland University Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing, 2010 - 2017: program development, residency and online classes, thesis advisor, post-thesis editor.

Writing Instructor, San Diego Writer’s Cooperative, The Ink Spot, 2006 - present.

Memoir Writing Group Facilitator, 2004 - present. Private read-and-critique groups.

Five tours: "Memoir Writing" workshops and lectures on memoir throughout the United States, 2007 - 2011.

Writing Instructor, University of California, San Diego, Extension, 2003 - 2008. "Personal Narrative Writing" and "Memoir Writing."

Professor of English, 1990 - 2000, San Diego City College.

Writing Overview:

Staff Writer, San Diego Reader, 1999 - present. Investigative articles, narrative nonfiction, science/explanatory reportage, neighborhood stories, and a few murder tales.

Book Reviews Editor, River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, 2014 - present.

Contributing writer, San Diego Troubadour, 2016 - present. Essays on music and books on music.

Contributing writer, The Truth Seeker, 2015 - 2018. Articles and essays on religion, secularism, and atheism.

Contributing writer, University of San Diego Magazine, 2004 - 2007. Profiles.

Freelance writer and book reviewer, 1988 - present.

Music critic, Santa Fe New Mexican, 1980 - 1983.

Major Publications:

Spirituality and the Writer: A Personal Inquiry. Ohio University / Swallow Press, 2019.

The Sanctuary of Illness: A Memoir of Heart Disease. Hudson Whitman / Excelsior College Press, 2014.

The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." Pegasus Books, 2010.

The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative. Ohio University / Swallow Press, 2007.

Seventy-three cover stories and ten inside features for the San Diego Reader, 1999 - present.

Editor: A Year in Ink: San Diego Writers’ Ink Anthology. San Diego Ink Spot Press, 2008

Hundreds of essays, reviews, articles, and memoir pieces published, 1980 - present. Among the names of literary journals, magazines, and newspapers: Brevity, Oxford American, Missouri Review, Puerto del Sol, The Rumpus, Chicago Reader, New Letters, Cimarron Review, Boulevard, American Music, The Santa Fe New Mexican, The San Diego Union-Tribune, AWP Chronicle, Counterpunch, Free Inquiry, and Gettysburg Review.


The Sanctuary of Illness. 2014 Indiefab Finalist: Autobiography & Memoir

Pushcart Nominations, 2017: "What It Was My Father Came Here To Get Away From" (Honorable mention, XLIII 2019) and "What I Am Not Yet, I Am."

A Few Publication Highlights:

"Absurd Givenness: The Death of God, Richard Rubenstein, and Me." The Truth Seeker. Sept-Dec, 2022.

"Just Think What You Can Do By Just Thinking About It." Times of San Diego. October 2, 2022.

"Life in Calipatria." San Diego Reader. August 31, 2022.

"Pro-Life? Not Exactly. More Like Pro-Birth. Life's Something Else. Times of San Diego. July 5, 2022.

"The Self, As Ensemble, The Prose, Like Jazz: On Albert Murray's South to a Very Old Place." Metapsychosis. June 1, 2022.

"Jackie Bryant Builds a Platform (The News Will Never Be the Same)." San Diego Reader. January 26, 2022.

"What's in His Wallet? An Addendum to the Texas Abortion Law." Times of San Diego. September 9, 2021.

"Unchurched." San Diego Reader. September 1, 2021.

"The Multimedia Art of Chauvet Cave." 3QuarksDaily. July 12, 2021.

"Certainty Makes You Stupid. San Diego Stupid." San Diego Reader. June 30, 2021.

"Fraudsters." San Diego Reader. May 6, 2021.

"I Assert the Right to Live Free From Disinformation." Times of San Diego. January 28, 2021.

"Beach Erosion." San Diego Reader. January 13, 2021.

"A Plurality of Traditions: Anthony Davis & the Social Justice Opera." Los Angeles Review of Books. October 17, 2020.

"Shapes Shifted, Senses Altered, Values Freely Wheeled." Review of Heidi Czerwiec's Fluid States, August 2, 2019.

"On Writing That Is Far Less Religious, Way More Spiritual." Brevity, May 30, 2019.

"All Those Glittering Tones: The Music of Richard Thompson." San Diego Troubadour, May 1, 2018.

"What It Was My Father Came Here to Get Away From." River Teeth 18.2 Spring 2017.

"What I Am Not Yet, I Am." Assay April 1, 2017.

NPR "On the Media" interview: "The Digital Bible." November 22, 2013.

"How I Want To Be in That Number." Dispatch from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival, May 20, 2013, Oxford American online.

"Writing While Ill: Pathography, Then & Now." Shenandoah. Online issue 62.2., February 2013.

"The Shifting Self. On Donald Morrill's The Untouched Minutes." The Oxford American. Issue 78, August 2012.

"Music, Memory, and Prose: On Joan Didion's Memoirs. Puerto del Sol. Volume 47, No. 1, Summer 2012.

"Disenthralled: An End to My Heart Disease." River Teeth. Volume 13, No. 2. Spring 2012.

"This Is Your Brain Reading: On Books. On Screens." The Rumpus. February 22, 2011.

"Driving Cars in Clown Suits: David Shields Terrifies Novelists." Review of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields. AGNI Online. June 11, 2010.

Special Focus Editor: American Book Review issue, "Memoir Now." Vol 30, No. 3, March/April 2009: Introduction: "A New Kind of Narrative Truth."

"Mrs. Wright’s Bookshop." New Letters. Vol 74, No. 3, Summer 2008. Winner: Reader’s Award for Nonfiction.

"The Son Not Taken." Tampa Review 36. Winter 2009.

"Identity Crisis: What Is a Memoir Anyway?" Etude: New Voices in Literary Nonfiction. Winter 2009.

"Is the Unexamined Life Worth Voting For? Memoirs of Clinton, Edwards, and Obama." / Shorts, 2008.

"The Woman on the Corner." / Shorts, 2007.

"Beguiled by Mozart's Image." Cadillac Cicatrix. Winter 2008.

"Our Samuel Clemens: Mark Twain in the Age of Personal Disclosure." Southern Humanities Review, Spring 2004.

"Almost Beautiful: A Life of Nathanael West." The Gettysburg Review, Winter 2001.

"‘In Spite of Everything’: The Definitive Indefinite Anne Frank." Antioch Review, Winter 2000.

"Skull and Roses—Reflections on Enshrining Georgia O’Keeffe." Southwest Review, Volume 83, No. 1, 1998.

"Freshman Comp, 1967." The Anchor Essay Annual: The Best of 1997, ed. Philip Lopate, Doubleday.

Lectures, Conferences, Readings:

Panel: "When Confession Isn't Enough: Art, Adversity, & Remembering Mike Steinberg." AWP Virtual Conference, March 5, 2021.

Reading: Spirituality and the Writer Warwick's Bookstore, July 25, 2019.

Presentation with Jane Lipman, "On Spiritual Writing." Santa Fe Unitarian Church, May 4, 2019.

Discussion: Spirituality and the Writer with Peter Bolland, San Diego Festival of Books, April 13, 2019.

Panel: "Voice, Genre, and the Writer's Perspective." San Diego Festival of Books, April 13, 2019.

Panel: NonfictionNow. November 2, 2018, Phoenix, AZ. "The Faithful and the Faithless."

Writer-to-Writer Conversation: San Diego Writers' Ink, October 6, 2018, Mass: A Sniper, A Father, A Priest with author Jo Scott-Coe.

Panel: AWP, March 10, 2018, Tampa, FL. "Beyond the I: How Research Enlarges Personal Narrative."

Film Presentation: Samuel Barber: Absolute Beauty. The Digital Gym/Media Arts Center, November 5, 2017.

Reading: "Two Pieces After Lawrence." Ashland MFA residency, July 26, 2017.

Reading: Katchemak Bay Writers' Conference. The Sanctuary of Illness. June 12, 2017.

Reading: AWP, February 11, 2017, Washington DC. "Fifth Year Anniversary of Hudson-Whitman Press. The Sanctuary of Illness."

Panel: AWP, February 9, 2017, Washington DC. "On Richard Selzer."

Lecture: "On the Poetry of Stephen Haven." Ashland MFA residency, July 22, 2016.

Reading: "What My Father Came Here To Get Away From." Ashland MFA program, July 18, 2016.

Lecture: "Load, Lessen, Level." River Teeth Nonfiction Conference, June 1, 2016.

Reading: Fresno Community College, April 4, 2016. "Fifteen Years of Feature Writing for the San Diego Reader."

Panels: AWP, March 31-April 2, 2016, Los Angeles, CA. Two panels: "Writing the Spiritual Memoir" and "Who Reads Us?"

Panels: NonfictionNow. October 29-31, 2015, Flagstaff, AZ. "Music & Writing." "You Lived Through It, Do We Have To Read About it?" "Looking for Real-Life Humberts: The Unreliable Narrator."

Panel: "Writing the Spiritual Memoir." RMMLA, Santa Fe, NM, "Life Writing," October 8, 2015.

Lecture: "James Agee & Music." Madame Sembrich Museum, Bolton Landing, NY, August 26, 2015.

Reading: "Eliot & Faith." Ashland MFA program, July 29, 2015.

Memoir Workshop & Reading, Arapahoe College Writing Festival, April 18, 2015.

Reading & discussion of my journalism career: College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, CA, March 25, 2015.

"The Sanctuary of Illness." Multimedia program, several dates, 2014.

Reading: "Falling Back to Earth." Ashland U MFA program, July 24, 2014.

Workshop: "Writing About Illness." San Diego Writers' Ink, October 26, 2013. Several dates around U.S., 2014.

Reading: "This Shining Night," on James Agee. Ashland U MFA program, August 4, 2013.

Video Essay premiere: "I'm Sorry / What For." AWP, Boston, LIR, March 8, 2013.

Panel: "Looking for Real-Life Humberts: The Unreliable Narrator in Creative Nonfiction." AWP Conference, Boston, March 7, 2013.

Multimedia Presentation: "And Titanic's Band Played On: 100 Years of a Musical Mystery." Summer/fall 2012, five dates.

Reading: "I Like To Have My Say." Ashland U MFA program, August 5, 2012.

Panel: Persona in CNF and Poetry. Ashland U MFA program, August 2, 2012.

Panel: "The Persona in Personal Narrative: On Donald Morrill's The Untouched Minutes. AWP Chicago, March 2012.

Reading: "Disenthralled: An End to My Heart Disease." Ashland U MFA program, August 3, 2011.

Multimedia Talk: "The 'Author' in the Digital Age." San Diego Writers & Editors Guild, March 21, 2011.

Panel: "Now, Where Was I: Subtext in Maggie Nelson's Bluets." Nonfiction Now Conference, Iowa City, IA, November 6, 2010.

Multimedia Presentation: "The Saddest Music Ever Written." Fall 2010 National Tour, thirty dates.

Lecture: "What We Mean When We Say a Memoir's Narrative is Personal." Ashland University MFA program, August 5, 2010.

Reading: "Saddest Music" multimedia presentation, Ashland U MFA, August 4, 2010.

Post-Thesis consultations in creative nonfiction: Ashland University MFA program, August 1 - 7, 2010.

Daylong & Weeklong seminars in memoir writing, The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, MN, 2009 & 2010.

"Writing the Memoir" & "Keep the Memoir Going" at San Diego Writers' Ink and at Ghost Ranch Santa Fe, 2007 - 2010.

Featured speaker: Murry's Annual Dinner, a fundraiser for The Missouri Review, May 2, 2010.

Panel: "Memoir Form and Ethics in the Age of the Oprah Book Club." AWP Conference, Denver, April 2010.

Panel: "Must a Memoir Read Like a Novel?" AWP Conference, Chicago, February 2009.


Judy Reeves, writer. 619-284-1343 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Joe Mackall, Professor of English & Creative Writing, Ashland University, Ashland, OH. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 567-203-2744

Stephen Haven, Director Lesley University MFA Program in Creative Writing. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 617-349-8357