My turn at The Next Big Thing: TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT

Huge thanks to my friend, Susan Tepper, for tagging me on this…is the word “meme”?…for writers. You can read her response to it on Jules Archer’s blog, Jules Just Write. Susan’s answers are fascinating and so is her book, FROM THE UMBERPLATZEN, and Jules’ blog is the coolest.

Aaaanyway, the questions for this seem better fitted for novels and I’m promoting a short story collection, but what the hell.

Here’s the cover of my book. It was designed by the amazingly talented Jana Vukovic:

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I love it.

And here is the Goodreads page for the book with some early reviews: Goodreads.

And now, to the questions:

1) What is the title of your book?

TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT (The Lit Pub)

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?

Well, it’s stories, so the ideas came from everywhere, from life and living and people and love and strife and things I’ve done and the odd contents of my brain & heart.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Literary Short Fiction

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d want all ordinary looking unknowns. Like me.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s a book of Kathy Fish stories.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither.

7) How long did it take you to write a first draft of your manuscript?

See? This is really for novels. But the stories were written over a period of ten years.
I’m slow.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don’t think I can compare it to other books specifically.

9) Who or what inspired you to write the book?

I’m going to say Molly Gaudry inspired me to make the collection (of already written work) because she asked me to and her faith and belief in my work was, and is, a huge inspiration.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

You really have to be a fan of short fiction to like this book. On Goodreads, all the time, I see these reviews of short fiction collections that start out with, “I don’t really like short stories” and I shake my head in despair. And you have to be open to odd, experimental forms, prose poetry type things, etc. And I’m laughing because now I sound like I’m trying to talk you out of reading this book! No, no, you should read this book. It represents the best 20% of the stories I’ve written. In my opinion. If I threw in all the stories I’ve ever written, it would be a bigger book, but there would be stories in there that are just so so. There’s no reason to make a collection of so so stories.

It’s a small, good book and I’m proud of it.

UP NEXT: Two writers I’ve known for many years and who have terrific books to promote. Tiff Holland will be talking about her chapbook from Rose Metal Press, BETTY SUPERMAN and Eric Bosse will be discussing his collection from Ravenna Press, MAGNIFICENT MISTAKES.

Joy Williams Makes Me Laugh and A Story by Me

Joy Williams

Oh man. I’ve finally gotten around to reading a novel by Joy Williams. I’ve read her short story collections and reread them. She just floors me. But now I’m reading The Quick and The Dead. Oh it’s an odd novel. I’m not getting “caught up in the plot”. You never do with Joy Williams. You get caught up in the language, the dialogue, the places and the characters. Joy Williams is funny too. Am I the only one who thinks this? Woman makes me laugh. It’s such a wicked, biting sense of humor. I think she’d be funny to talk to.

Come on. Does that not look like someone who likes to laugh?


John Minichillo told me that Joy Williams once bought him a beer. I’m so jealous.

I mean, maybe this isn’t supposed to make me laugh, but it did:

“He felt as resourceful as the Cub Scout he had once been. He hoped all his cub mates were dead, the little bastards.”

HA!

So I’m reading The Quick and The Dead very, very slowly because I love Joy Williams’ sentences. Sometimes her stories are devastating. I wonder if this novel will be devastating. I don’t get the sense that it will in the same way some of her stories are. “Honored Guest” kills me every time.

It’s Short Story Month

I love that short story month exists. I’m writing a short essay for David Abrams’ blog, The Quivering Pen. I’m thinking a lot about what short stories mean to me and it’s funny, but as a writer, I am a relative latecomer to the marvel that is the short story. I’ll say more about it on David’s blog.

In honor of short story month, I thought I’d link to a few of my stories which appear in my new collection, TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT (I’m also going to link stories that I love by other people). That first printing sold out so fast I feel almost as if the book has disappeared. But it will be back soon and I hope lots of people read it. The thing about publishing a book, for me, is that it creates an incredible urge to go hide under the covers. What is that?

I think it’s that I feel so exposed. Uncomfortably so. And yet, I truly do want people to read my stories. Writing is my chance to speak up and say what I want to say in a fictional way. In a family of talkers and storytellers, I am the quiet one. My publisher, Molly Gaudry, at The Lit Pub has given me some author questions and I’m taking a ridiculous amount of time answering them. I have to talk about This. Writing. Myself. Myself as a Writer. And Me as a Person. It’s daunting. I go very quiet. Can I just write a story instead?

A Story by Me

One of the stories in TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT is “Snow” which appeared originally in the lit journal, New South. The editor of New South surprised me by taking two of my more experimental stories. This one originally was one very, very long paragraph. I broke it up here, at Fictionaut, to give readers’ eyes a break. I have a sort of love affair with snow and winter. I like shorter days and the perfect, slanted light that happens around 4:30 and the way a new snow transforms a landscape and the world gradually becomes breathtakingly foreign.

Click on this pretty picture to read “Snow” by me.

Praise for Together We Can Bury It

Ohh, I do not love self-promotion, and I really suck at it, but damn, I’m so happy and so proud of this book, so bear with me here. I’ve gotten some lovely blurbs for my collection, which launches at AWP. I only asked writers I knew and who knew my writing. People who have supported me so much over the years and whose writing I admired beyond words. So thank you Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Kim Chinquee, Jennifer Pieroni, Jeff Landon, and James Robison. I am so honored and grateful. And my deepest thanks to Molly Gaudry for her extreme faith, boundless energy and incredible vision. The Lit Pub is doing amazing things and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Praise for Together We Can Bury It

“We readers are blessed to have these perfectly made stories by Kathy Fish, each one a distillation of novel-sized themes and predicaments to a heady, imperative, short short encounter, each story exact, humane, each story providing a language of music. And each the product of a writer who knows all the storms and terrors, the pathetic and somehow holy conditions of our existence. Masterworks!”

—James Robison, author of The Illustrator

“A space man untethered in the universe thinking of home. A young couple biking in the rain to a parade that must be cancelled. A woman losing her speech and balance but still leaving, she thinks, for New York. With remarkable precision, Kathy Fish champions the dreamers, believers, and lovers. If you are not one of those, you can trust Kathy Fish to show you the way back to your heart.”

—Jennifer Pieroni, editor of Quick Fiction

“Kathy Fish's Together We Can Bury It is a wonder—stories filled with sadness, humor, and longing—a slanted banged-up beauty of a world that feels like this one, only more.”

—Jeff Landon, author of Truck Dance and Emily Avenue

“Full of grace and wit, Kathy Fish's Together We Can Bury It takes one to the familiar, yet bizarre: worlds of wonder, ache, and hope. Worlds not to forget. A refreshing voice, busting of compassion, guts, and wisdom. This collection shines with amazing delight.”


—Kim Chinquee, author of Oh Baby

“There’s a movie’s worth of character and plot and insight in every blooming one of these short
fictions. I finished this book feeling stuffed, dazed, and amazed by how much Kathy Fish gets done in such tight spaces. It’s a thrill to be privy to what she thinks about, the wonder she carries inside.”

—Pia Z. Ehrhardt, author of Famous Fathers

Together We Can Bury It — Coming Soon! The Lit Pub Bookstore…

Very excited to see my new short story collection at the Lit Pub Bookstore page with such a stellar list, including books by Aimee Bender, J.A. Tyler, Matt Bell, Andrea Kneeland, Scott Garson, Caitlin Horrocks, Miles Harvey and Ben Segal and Erinrose Mager. I seriously want to buy all of these.

Here is the link. These books will launch at AWP in Chicago: The Lit Pub Bookstore

Some good things to start 2012….

There’s a terrific interview with Molly Gaudry at Used Furniture Review. She says, among other smart, insightful things, “I think there’s only one single thing that can help get a person ahead — genuine sincerity. All one has to do is truly love what this little pocket of the publishing world has to offer, and express that love by taking advantage of all available possibilities. And the best thing about it is anyone, absolutely anyone, can do so at any time. That is the strength of the “indie lit” scene.”

Sara Lippmann has a great story you should read at Connotation Press called Body Scan.

This essay by Pico Iyer at the New York Times Sunday Review: The Joy of Quiet. One of my resolutions for 2012 is to pursue more quiet in my life. To shut down and go inward, more. So, amen, to everything in this article.

Just learned that the Stripped anthology (edited by Nicole Monaghan) is out and it includes a story of mine. The anthology has an interesting premise: “Stripped is a collection with a twist. Yes, the fiction contained herein includes works from some of the best-known names in flash fiction as well as the work of emerging writers, but the bylines have been removed so you can’t tell who wrote what. What’s more, the stories hinge largely on gender roles – but with the authors’ identities stripped from their stories, editor Nicole Monaghan has created a bit of a guessing game. Did a woman, for example, write that piece about ambivalence toward motherhood? Or was it a man? More to the point, does it really matter? Or is there something bigger going on when men and women stretch their minds and imagine what it might be like to be the other?” There are numerous wonderful writers included. The book can be ordered from Amazon

Today I received my first acceptance for the year, a reprint for an anthology: Midwest Gothic Stories, edited by Jodee Stanley and Brian Kornell. There will be stories in there from Don Chaon, Mike Czyzniejewski and Cathy Day (who will also be doing a panel, along with the anthology editors, on Midwest Gothic Fiction at the upcoming AWP). The best description I’ve seen of what “Midwest Gothic” is can found on their blog here: What is Midwest Gothic?

Another resolution for this year is to pursue health. Well, I feel as though I’m always pursuing health in some form or another, but 2011 sucked health-wise and I felt as if I needed to do something a little drastic. So I’ve embarked on a 21 day “vegan cleanse” which involves: no coffee, no alcohol, no sugar, no wheat products, no (of course) animal products, no meat, no dairy. Ha, what’s left? Actually there’s a lot left. So I’m starting every day with green tea instead of coffee, which may turn out to be the hardest change of all. We’ll see how this goes. Right now, I have a headache.

Into and Out of the Wild–My final post at Necessary Fiction

Necessary Fiction.