An Interview with Author Sarah Gerard
by Paul Florez
I first heard of author Sarah Gerard when I was a student at The New School’s MFA program (where she also did her MFA). My thesis was about my ongoing struggle with anorexia, and my advisor told me to look up Sarah’s debut novel, Binary Star, which follows the harrowing story of a woman suffering from an eating disorder.
Binary Star impacted the way I viewed my body. Sarah wrote that anorexia, like a pulsating star, burns fuel that isn’t replenished. I was instantly hooked on her writing. The novel’s prose was luminous and intoxicating, and it allowed me to see the forest for the trees when it came to my eating disorder.
I got to work with Sarah when Harper Perennial published her essay collection, Sunshine State, last April. In Sunshine State, she examines coming of age against Florida’s Emerald Coast, and elucidates the nefarious psychic energy that can fester, not only deep in the ridges of the gulf, but in the residents themselves. In a nutshell, she uses Florida as a means to study economic and environmental perils haunting our society.
I sat down with Sarah to discuss Sunshine State, the fictional heroine that inspired her youth, her grassroots approach to promoting her books, and her upcoming art book, Recycle (available for preorder from Pacific).
An Interview with Steve Erickson
by Bruce Bauman
In his ten novels and two nonfiction books since the debut of Days Between Stations in 1985, Steve Erickson has created a world unlike that of any author working today. When people ask me to describe Erickson’s work—as they often do, knowing I was senior editor for thirteen years on the national literary journal Black Clock, of which Erickson was co-founder and editor-in-chief—I quote the Lovin’ Spoonful: “It’s like tryin’ to tell a stranger about rock ’n roll.” Erickson is a literary magician. His work is a unique North American magical realism: Faulkner meets García Márquez meets the Dylan of Highway 61 Revisited. In the last thirty years he has imagined a reality both completely recognizable and what only can be called “Ericksonian.” Writers from Jonathan Lethem to Rick Moody to Mark Z. Danielewski have credited his influence. While working with him on Black Clock, I saw the respect and admiration he received from David Foster Wallace, Richard Powers, Joanna Scott, Susan Straight, Samuel Delany, T. C. Boyle, Aimee Bender, Greil Marcus, Janet Fitch, Geoff Nicholson, and Don DeLillo. Erickson has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. Recently Steve and I talked over Mexican food and via email about literature, politics, being and becoming a writer in these times, and his new mindblower, Shadowbahn [out in paperback February 2018].
Authors In Conversation
A Multilingual Most Exquisite Corpse Story | Co-Hosted by Slice & Words Without Borders at the PEN World Voices LitCrawl
by Filip Springer, Francisco Cantú, Abdourahman Waberi, and Karolina Ramqvist
Translated by Sean Gasper Bye, Francisco Cantú, José Garcia, David and Nicole Ball, and Saskia Vogel
Readers Sean Gasper Bye, Filip Springer, Francisco Cantú, José Garcia, Karolina Ramqvist, Corinna Barsan, Abdourahman Waberi, and Karen Phillips at Lit Crawl 2017. Photo by Savannah Whiting.
For the Lit Crawl portion of this year’s PEN World Voices Festival, Slice Literary and Words Without Borders partnered to present a multilingual exquisite corpse, a story written by four international writers—Filip Springer, Francisco Cantú, Abdourahman Waberi, and Karolina Ramqvist—and translated by Sean Gasper Bye, José Garcia, David and Nicole Ball, and Saskia Vogel.
Literal Magic: An Interview with Poet Kaveh Akbar
by Christopher Locke
Poet Kaveh Akbar understands what’s at stake: as a recovering alcoholic/addict, he knows his current reality as one of today’s most exciting voices in contemporary American poetry could just as easily not have been. Life is about choices. Simple as that. And Kaveh decided, no, he knew, in order to start living he had to choose to abandon those things which subtracted from life. And he knew moving forward he could only live one way: honestly. This truth is evident in the astounding poems which make up his first chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic. Searing and painful, hypnotic and surreal, his poems also find room for the sensual and the abundant; Kaveh praises living both as a spiritual being and a physical one. But the wolf is always present, and he knows that too. I spoke to Kaveh by phone on a dreary day in February from my office in upstate New York. But Kaveh’s genuine kindness, his thoughtful intelligence, and his love of language and of living—really, of magic—made everything a bit brighter that day.
An Interview With Manjula Martin
by Celia Johnson
When we talk to writers about their work, we tend to focus on craft. What inspired you to write your novel? Do you have any creative quirks? But rarely do we ask: How do you balance art and commerce? Did you struggle to pay the bills in those early days? Are you struggling now, after selling your first (second, third…) book? In her new anthology, Scratch, Manjula Martin invites emerging and established writers (Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Alexander Chee, Daniel José Older, among others) to strike up a conversation about making a living as a writer.