Tag Archives: Just One Question

Just One Question for Jeff Landon

17 Apr

Just One Question is a new series in which I pose just one question to a Hot Pants author about their work. This episode features Jeff Landon whose flash collection Truck Dance was published last year by Matter Press. In this collection Jeff never fails to impress with a cast of utterly lovable characters trying hard to be loved.

Jennifer: We crave fiction with trouble in it. So many of the characters in Truck Dance have made mistakes, experienced failure, and seem to carry around meaningful regret. Yet, we see clearly that each of them has maintained their dignity–something not everyone in life is able to do. I think we’ve taken the maxim “failure is not an option” a bit too far. What do you think?

Jeff: If failure is not an option, we are doomed.  To live is to screw up, in big or small ways, over and over, and then, to repair. Some regrets, of course, hit harder, and stick around longer.  We make mistakes, we hurt people, and ourselves, in so many ways around here.  But if we care about people (even strangers) and honestly do feel regret, it levels some of the harm.  In fiction, I like the idea of taking decent people, and dropping some trouble into their lives, because, you’re right, we do crave that.  It’s sort of like there’s this huge community of people out there, joined by failings and hurts, and they sometimes find each other, and they understand that, oh, here, have some ice cream, let’s go for a walk, let’s dance around, let’s get through this.

Jeff’s book can be purchased at Matter Press.


Just One Question for Scott Garson

9 Apr

Just One Question is a new series in which I pose just one question to a Hot Pants author about their work. In the past, I have featured Myfanwy Collins and Ethel Rohan.  In this episode, I ask Scott Garson about his collection American Gymnopédies. Recently re-issued by Lit Pub Books, the book was praised by Jim Heynen as a “wonderfully original work.”

Jennifer: There must be something about America, and the cities your characters inhabit, that is very interesting to you. What did you hope to communicate by titling the book and the pieces with place names?

Scott: First, thanks for the opporturnity, Jen!  What I’ve found about questions like these: you think you know what the answer will be, but then you don’t. So let’s see…

Maybe the most honest response would have to start with the other side of the equation—the ‘gymnopédie’ thing. I’ve always loved the Satie pieces and championed them, in an I-stand-for-this way. I like how unclassifiable they are within classical music. I like their sound—how they feel like they’re ruled by form but at the same time impressionable, open. So one day—several years ago, this was—I wondered what a gymnopédie would be like as prose. Continue reading

Just One Question for Ethel Rohan

24 Mar

Just One Question is a series. (It will be!) In it, I pose just one question to a Hot Pants author about their work. In this episode, I ask Ethel Rohan about Hard to Say, her remarkable collection of flash fiction published by PANK last year.

Jennifer: “Septicemia” is a hard word to pronounce–harder still for a child. But we know that your book is about more than the tongue-twisting ailments of the narrator’s mother. It is about the narrator finding the language to describe the events that shocked her in the formative years. By the end of HARD TO SAY the narrator has spoken a deep fear, yet she says she’s ruined. Does the narrator mean that giving words to her fear has ruined her? It seems to me that this belief runs contrary to what pop psychology says: “Let it all out.” Many writers will relate to the trouble of choosing the right words to describe the concerns that preoccupy them, whatever those concerns may be. If all writing is about writing, is your book a cautionary tale? Continue reading

Just One Question for Myfanwy Collins

15 Mar

 Just One Question is a series. (It will be!) In it, I pose just one question to a Hot Pants author about their work. In this episode, I ask Myfanwy Collins about her gripping debut novel Echolocation, which is available now from Engine Books. Publishers Weekly called it “stark and stirring.” 

Jennifer: Maintaining Auntie Marie’s store requires a lot of work and provides minimal reward. It seems to me that, after her death, little consideration is given to closing the store, even though it would be the easiest thing to do. Of all of the characters, Cherie seems most open to ending it. Could you tell more about the purpose of the store, in the minds of the characters? In your mind? Is it intended to evoke a deeper meaning? Continue reading