An Interview with Peter Kispert, by Meredith Talusan
I remember talking to a couple of new high school friends over lunch, my first month in America, about how a couple of other kids in my typing class were really impressed I was in honors chemistry as a sophomore; my precociousness was the only cachet I possessed back when I didn’t know it wasn’t something to flaunt. That was when this guy I’d only exchanged a few sentences with, thin with stringy blond hair covering part of one eye, who had never before struck me as mean or a bully, came over from the next table and said, “I sit next to you in that class. No one ever talks to you.” I couldn’t object, and starting the next day, those new friends found other people to sit with.
Getting caught in a lie is terrifying and shameful, yet so many of us do it anyway because lying is also exhilarating. It lets you dream up a self that doesn’t exist, one that you hope might in the future. That incident and others where I’ve been caught lying have stuck with me to this day, yet its implications are so cringeworthy that I’ve avoid thinking, let alone writing about them. Leave it to Peter Kispert to spend an entire story collection, I Know You Know Who I Am, getting to the heart of the human desire to lie, especially for queer people who out of necessity almost always need to withhold truth. Reading the book, I spent too many moments on the verge of running from the room out of sympathetic embarrassment, yet consistently returning to find myself gaining a keener understanding and even rooting for Kispert’s characters. Maybe it’s because at heart, we are all underdogs in some ways, and who can blame us for wanting to present ourselves as just a little bit better than we are?
Peter and I spent a few weeks corresponding about his book, which was a pleasant break from the harsh and painfully objective truth of our current pandemic.
An Interview with Terrance Hayes, by Courtney Faye Taylor
This is an excerpt of an interview that will be published in the fall 2020 issue of SLICE.
I encountered Wanda Coleman for the first time on YouTube—a recitation of her poem, “Untitled” in celebration of Luvina, the literary magazine of The University of Guadalajara. Coleman humorously starts the reading by saying, “If you’d like to know anything about me, you can Google me. I am all over the Internet, unfortunately. Not all of it good.” An early line in “Untitled” seems to respond to this: “I will outlive my ambitions or the judgments of others.” Rather than reading the line, Coleman sings it.
Her entire reading is performative like this. Portions of the poem are delivered slowly, deliberate pauses making for meditations. Sometimes a phrase makes Coleman smile. Some words encourage her hands to take flight. Lines like, “I will walk with hips that are monuments,” take me to the lyricism of Lucille Clifton. Sections with the cadence of monologues point in the direction of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls. At the end, Coleman stares into the audience. She outlives the applause, the moment, even the beauty of that poem.
As a poet, mother, Los Angeles native, black woman, essayist, and more, Wanda Coleman is a master of honesty. Her writing is an artifact of a life defined by brilliance, outspokenness, and survival. Once you’ve witnessed Coleman, there’s no denying her irreplaceability in the canon.
An Interview with Danny M. Lavery, by A. E. Osworth
I read Something That May Shock and Discredit You with a pen in hand, underlining passages and wondering how Daniel Mallory Ortberg (who is socially going by Daniel Lavery after taking his wife’s last name) got so close to my own experiences as to be squatting in my own, personal brain. And that was before I knew I’d be speaking to him. I just didn’t want to forget anything. In particular: “My most desperate desire was not that I would be assisted in my transition but that someone would either force or forbid me to do it, because I could not take responsibility for annihilating my own life.” It’s a feeling I remember well, the longing to be pushed out of the closet or else barricaded in it, the understanding that nothing and everything would change once I spoke out loud the reasons for my sudden onset panic attacks, a problem I had never before had until all at once I realized why I was always uncomfortable. An annihilation, to be sure.
The book is a collection of essays and interludes, many of which have been previously published on Lavery’s popular email newsletter, The Shatner Chatner. It oscillates between deep thoughts about the nature of gender and transition, closely-read parody of the Bible and Greek myth, and Eldritch re-envisioning of House Hunters. Lavery’s writing stands on the theoretical shoulders of many a gender theorist before him, but that’s not what makes this book special. It is the lightness of prose that doesn’t at all interfere with the intellectual rigor of content, but rather enhances it. It is the inclusion and distortion of the pop culture landscape around us, situating the modern (post-modern? contemporary?) transsexual in a landscape of hot internet takes and e-dada-esque humor. It is the speaking directly to and for a trans community with blessedly little hedging toward a cis audience.
Dear Linear Time by Bruce Bauman
To celebrate SLICE’s Issue 24: Time, we’re featuring an excerpt of a work in progress by acclaimed author Bruce Bauman: “Dear Linear Time.”
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“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
Dear Linear Time,
In another era I would’ve addressed you as God, but your silence throughout the history of humanity renders me incapable of making Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” and has made you, God, at best, irrelevant, and most certainly nonexistent in the form of Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah. So I address you as Linear Time—my adversary in this process called life. Time may bend in Einstein’s universe, but I’m too dim to see that concept, and in my universe it is I who refuse to kneel down in the pew of time’s altar.
An Interview with Mary Kuryla
In Freak Weather: Stories, you won’t find women who make the safest or the most calculated choices. But they’ll make their own choices, and they’ll tell you why. Mary Kuryla is a master of narrative voice. The stories in this collection are built and undercut by the tough, unflinching women who tell them. Amy Hempel selected Freak Weather for the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction. I spoke with Kuryla about her inimitable characters, her revision process, and why a snake had to be a snake and not a metaphor, and much more.
SLICE + VICE: T KIRA MADDEN
by Marae Hart
Inspired by the “seven deadly sins,” SLICE + VICE is an exposition of the underbelly of craft. With vice in mind, SLICE asks writers and industry professionals seven short answer questions to illuminate the darker side of creativity and the publishing process.
For the latest SLICE + VICE, we chatted with essayist T Kira Madden, whose memoir Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls was released to much acclaim this year. You can also catch her at the upcoming Slice Literary Writers’ Conference.