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Author Kevin Canty used to live in Cleveland Park. He dropped out of D.C.’s Wilson High School and worked with a local construction crew for about a year before he decided to get his GED and attend the University of Montana. Like his brother Brendan Canty, the drummer for local band Fugazi, the author-to-be pursued music for a while, picking his guitar rather than pushing his pen. But eventually, he settled into a log cabin in Montana to write, taking up what he calls “the burden of everybody else’s dream life.” His debut, a collection of stories titled A Stranger in This World (Doubleday, 181 pp., $20), was published in August and has recently been named to Publishers Weekly‘s list of 1994’s best books. Stranger‘s stories have a hard-edged realism that makes spare but clinching use of imagery; Canty pricks acute details of his characters’ psyches with the precision of an acupuncturist. The author believes that every serious collection [of tales] adds up to something…a coherent impression,” and says that this particular book “reflects my life at an earlier stage.” Fearing a jinx, Canty is reluctant to talk about his work-in- progress, a novel whose first chapters have already won a TransAtlantic Review Award. For now, he teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he says he feels “totally strange” in the role of professor.