J.A. Tyler Interviews Aaron Burch

J.A. Tyler: HOW TO TAKE YOURSELF APART, HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF ANEW is subtitled “notes and instructions from/for a father”, and is dedicated to your dad. Would you talk to us about the relationships between this book, you, and fatherhood?

Aaron Burch: Yeah, sure. I guess, more than anything, father/son relationships are just one of my default themes that I write about, without even thinking about or realizing it. Or at least, I used to not realize it. One of the interesting things about putting together a collection, at least for me, was noticing all these words and phrases and themes that I thought was cleverly sprinkled into a story or two, only to realize I’ve done it a dozen times. After I noticed the fatherhood theme running throughout (actually, more honestly, after someone else pointed it out to me) I figured the chap already had an obnoxiously long title, so why not make it even longer with a subtitle that would then make the whole thing seem more cohesive than I’d intended when writing all the pieces individually. Also, my dad is pretty important in my life and, being a writer, I tend to… you know… not really talk to people or tell anyone anything, and so I thought/hoped it would be a nice gesture for my dad.

J.A. Tyler: The ending phrases of nearly every section seem very staccato and curt in their finishes. Is this something conscious in the writing/editing of this book, or is it a (lovely) symptom of your standard writing style?

Aaron Burch: I think it is probably most of all a symptom of my writing style. The short, staccato ending is probably my short short/prose poem version of the more traditional-length short story’s epiphany, opening everything up to the larger world, character pondering the “useless” and “too distant” stars ending, that writer’s always think is clever and beautiful, but is really kind of overused and samesame.

J.A. Tyler: HOW TO TAKE YOURSELF APART, HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF ANEW is like the mixture of a hug and a shove. Would you address this combination of violence and the genuine?

Aaron Burch: Hm. I’d never thought of it like this, but I like it. I think, again, my default nature is probably to lean toward the hug, and, frankly, I often get kind of tired of and annoyed by my own tendencies to write, and so I try to throw a shove or two in there to mix it up. Usually, when there’s any kind of violence in my stories or short shorts or whatever, it is me trying to throw a kink into whatever I’m writing and then see how I deal with it. I have a kind of imaginary WWBED (What Would Brian Evenson Do?) bracelet that I consult when I start to get bored with my own writing, and that’s when I make a character cut her own hand off, or cut open their scalp, or extract their own teeth, or whatnot. Also, kind of tied to this, I don’t think I’m really a language-driven writer and so these shorts/this collection (and they were all written individually, with no intention of cohesion or collectivity, although they were also all written pretty quickly and during a similar time-span) was especially fun because they were, mostly, me trying to… well… honestly… incorporate the type of writing that I’ve been so interested in lately, people like Evenson, and Peter Markus, and Blake Butler, and Deb Olin Unferth; and I realize now I shouldn’t have even started listing names because of everyone I’m not including. Ah well. I’ll leave it at that.

J.A. Tyler: This book places a high emphasis on introspection and digging—the vignettes almost always geared towards tearing something down, breaking something apart. How important do you think it is for writers to re-fold, to re-structure, to cut open and newly digest as they write and edit?

Aaron Burch: Um… yes? Also: I like how the structure and language of these questions makes me sound smarter and better than I am. Oh wait… you asked how important, not just is it important. I think, to some degree, I got into this above. I think my favorite stories, of those I’ve written, in this book and elsewhere, are the ones where I tried to twist a story by adding some kind of element that I wouldn’t normally, and then kind of recalibrating to see how I can make sense of that.

J.A. Tyler: Where can we find more Burch, and what can we look forward to down the line?

Aaron Burch: You can find more of me in Champaign, IL, probably at the bar. As for my writing… I’ve had a decent number of “longer” stories come out in journals in the last couple of months (and/or that are forthcoming in the next month or two), which has been exciting, to finally get some of those accepted, because before this stretch it had only been short short stuff, and then just one or two longer things. These stories are in New York Tyrant (which includes the character “extracting his own teeth” as referenced above), PANK, Barrelhouse, and Los Angeles Review. I’ve also got a collection, HOW TO PREDICT THE WEATHER, coming from Keyhole Books later this year. It was going to be a chapbook but grew into more of a full-length after this chap won PANK’s contest. It looks like it’s going to also be all shorter fiction and prose poems and whatever you want to call them. It will feature some of APART/ANEW, kind of like this chap is the ep that has some rad bonus songs that actually ended up being your favorite, you know, and then a bunch of other stuff, like my series of “Overcast” stories, and more of my more narrative shorter pieces.

  1. […] Tyler interviewed Aaron Burch HERE. His review of Dana Teen Lomax’s Disclosure appears HERE. His review of Aaron […]

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