An Interview with Deborah Shapiro, by Stephanie Feldman
Deborah Shapiro’s debut novel, The Sun in Your Eyes, tells the story of Lee and Viv, two best friends who reunite after years of silence. Lee is looking for a partner in her search for the final recordings of her father, dead rock icon Jesse Parrish. Viv is looking for an escape from her soap opera writing job and her domestic life. Together they travel through Jesse’s past, and their own, in search of a resolution to the bond they once shared.
Critics have lauded the book’s portrait of female friendship, and through that friendship, Shapiro explores art and celebrity, parents and romantic partners, and what happens when you’ve already come of age but find you still have more road to travel.
An Interview with Jeffrey Thomson, by Heidi Sistare
Jeffrey Thomson’s most recent book, fragile, is a memoir that covers years and many miles, exploring our relationship to the natural world and to risk. It’s a story that gives us unfettered access to Thomson’s thoughts; we share his experiences with travel, teaching, fatherhood, and the edge between living and dying. In addition to being a memoirist, Thomson is a poet, translator, and teacher. I spoke with Thomson about place, collaboration, and his current project—a historical novel inspired by Thomson’s own ancestry set in the 1700s. He also shares the most important lessons he hopes to impart to his students and reminds us: “Writing is about learning. Always.”
An Interview with Mira Ptacin, by Olga Kreimer
Mira Ptacin’s debut memoir, Poor Your Soul, about the grief of losing an unexpected pregnancy at twenty-eight, is not depressing. This might be surprising; between that event and the braided-in story of her brother’s sudden death at sixteen, you expect tears before you’re done reading the dust jacket summary. But the slice of her history that Mira’s book offers is full of color and nuance, peppered with details and even humor that breathe life into all its layers. The result will probably still make you cry. But it’s the familiar details that bring it home, the flashes of recognition of sticky youth, new love, New York City sidewalks, iron-willed parents, teenage cigarettes, petulant silences, 80s fashion, puzzling neighbors, unexpected joy—and of grief and pain, yes, but also of irrepressible resilience.
An Interview with Andrew Malan Milward, by Liz Mathews
In considering Midwestern states, there are lots of things that the general population doesn’t know—that even the residents of those particular states don’t know. Consider Kansas. Were you aware that the largest-circulating Socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, was published in Kansas City? Or that women were granted the right to vote in Kansas eight years before the federal government made it an amendment? Or that male impotence can be cured by the implantation of a goat testicle? Actually, that one is not true, but a man named John R. Brinkley was pretty good at selling the claim, and he had several unsuccessful bids for governor of Kansas.
An Interview with Bruce Bauman, by Neni Demetriou
Bruce Bauman’s second novel, Broken Sleep (Other Press, 2015), is one where rock music, politics, art, religion, and love all come crashing together in epic proportions. But more than that, it’s a book about family. Broken Sleep is what happens when a writer bridges the magic between their pen and their mind. It’s innovative, it’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful, it’s emotional—it opens with a bang, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Which is why I was thrilled to talk to Bruce about it, where I was able to find out about his writing process, what he loved most about this book, and the relationships writers have with their characters. I also got some pretty cool pieces of advice.
An Interview with Anders Carlson-Wee, by Christopher Locke
A friend of a friend told me I needed to read this poet named Anders Carlson-Wee, a young man living off the grid and hopping trains. “He just won an NEA in Poetry,” my buddy said. Okay, I thought, that has my attention. But then I read his poem “Dynamite,” from his award winning chapbook of the same name, and was absolutely knocked for a loop. Carlson-Wee crafts images that are raw, precise, and immediate, his language both spare and visceral. In his poems, he effortlessly pairs violence and pain with plain-spoken beauty in such a way as to make the reading experience almost transformative; you can only be fully alive when reading his work. But most importantly, he proves a trustworthy narrator and these poems bear scars, literal at times, that feel lived in and fully earned—nothing phony about Carlson-Wee.