Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 196
Ethan Canin’s talents as a writer were first recognized by popular romance author Danielle Steel, who taught at Canin’s private high school before her own novels became successful. After high school, Canin attended Stanford University, where he studied physics and then switched to English. After graduating from Stanford in 1982, he went on to get an M.F.A. from the prestigious writing program at the University of Iowa. Discouraged by his experience at the Iowa workshop, where he learned about many of the negative aspects of a writer’s life, and feeling a need to be useful, Canin elected to attend Harvard’s medical school. He was in the midst of his exams at medical school when the publishing company Houghton Mifflin proposed that he prepare a collection of short stories. This volume, titled Emperor of the Air, became a best-seller, rare among short-story collections. Canin’s success has been such that he has published every story he wrote from his first acceptance in 1987. Although he received his M.D. from Harvard in 1992 and was a resident at a San Francisco hospital for a time, Canin left medicine to devote himself exclusively to writing.