thechapbookreview

J.A. Tyler Interviews Sean Lovelace

J.A. Tyler: Sean, I haven’t even emailed you yet. But I assume that writers want to do interviews, even if they are super busy writers like I think you probably are, so I am going to write these questions as if we have already talked through our inboxes and you already said, “Yeah, sure, I would love to do an interview/review kind of thing,” and then I said back to you, “Awesome, thanks for playing along,” and we started talking for real.

How Some People Like Their Eggs, your delightful chapbook, winner of the Rose Metal Press’s Third Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest judged by Sherrie Flick, is a collection of ten brief wandering stories. I would like to go through each piece in this one at a time, reviewing and interviewing as we go—sound fair? Good. You are so easy to work with.

1. ”Meterorite”

In Sherri Flick’s intro, she says that your sentences are “unexpected”—and that is certainly what I was most struck by in reading the opening piece “Meteorite.” Like this:

It makes me think of god and lack of god and luck—good, bad, out of, etc.—and this newspaper story I read last summer about a Good Samaritan who pulled over on the highway to help change a woman’s tire and was struck dead by a semi. I think of that exhausted word, destiny.

Those sentences bend into one another, dip down and then back up, carrying me. It seems so molded and faultless, nothing scattered, all words poised and placed, ready to tip with a reader. Is this evidence of a careful revision process, of placing words so precisely? Or do they simply fall out this way for you?

Sean Lovelace: I am large into sentences, probably because I teach. Students come into my office and ask, “Could I be a writer?” and I answer, “Do you love sentences?” Then I show them Blake Butler or Erika Lopez or Peter Markus or Diane Williams, and go, “Look. Look how much these people love the sentence.” Faulkner once wrote a 43 page sentence. Then again, “Stop!” is a sentence. The way to write a decent sentence is a mix of natural and lucky flow—to get into a Kelly Clarkson of language, but this is rare, for me. The established method is to write a clunky or flat sentence, then slice/revise/grind/revise/boom! I wish writing had more shortcuts, but it does not.

2. “Charlie Brown’s Diary: Excerpts”

I wake, and hear the bird coughing. Some dog barking. My coal-smudge eyes sting with sleep. In a hotel near a train station, yawning off Löwenbräu fumes in my zig-zag shirt.

Tyler: Here, in the second text, the mood is a wonderful mixture of wit and darkness, taking Charlie Brown, a cultural icon of depression, and pressing his face deeper in the mud. But being clever in writing is difficult, and lacing it with darkness is even more challenging. How do you work to play with humor in your writing? And how often do you think about the balance of emotional range within an intentionally clever piece?

Lovelace: Someone once said, “Cleverness is a thin drug.” Not sure who and I don’t feel like Googling. But you have to be regardful with clever. Again, since I teach, I see legions trying to be funny, and that can go really wrong. For me, the thing I have to ask myself is what do I do in my work different from most others? Or what is my crunky-style, I suppose. Or what can it be? And I notice I write quite a bit of persona work, like with Chuck here. And I can sometimes be funny. Funny is fucking hard. You can fake serious, but it’s hell to fake funny, almost impossible. So I try to use my innate sense. The humor with Chuck is of course sad, dark humor, one way to deal with the Charlie Brown within us. Again, a lot of this comes from revision. I cut a lot of stuff I thought was witty or sly in the drafts. Once in a while I am actually funny. It works, occasionally, sort of. I mean I write a lot of bad stuff (people who read my work cheering now).

3. “I Love Bocce”

Tyler: What happens in the third piece is that we see your approach to the surreal, replacing every word and action with bocce, verbing bocce, nouning bocce, until I see in my head nothing but bocce balls crossing and re-crossing the sky, bocce jetliners.

Everyone nodded his or her head. I felt like a cloud in someone else’s dream.

It is a rare occurrence to find writers who can negotiate the realistic, the clever, and the surreal, all with the equal vibrancy that you do in these first three stories. Do you think about these varied approaches when you write? Or is this just a symptom of different contexts, changing content?

Lovelace: Another smart question. You have smart questions, which means you read and took time to apply your intellect to this writing, so I thank you. Seriously.

It is content and context. I mean I never start a story trying to write it one way. Or let me backpedal. If I do begin that way, it falls to the ground like a breast-shot dove. It won’t usually “click.” All three of the stories are really about the world not meeting its preconceived idea. Cancer is chaos and entropy. Charlie Brown wakes up every day and he’s kicking (not) that damn football. The bocce thing is really just how none of us can truly communicate with each other. A very frustrating aspect of daily life. And lonely. Also, full disclosure, I was obsessed with bocce when I wrote this story. Now I just kindly like the sport.

4. “A Sigh is Just a Sigh”

She said, “You ever seen a Nordic woman naked? Skin like fresh milk…”

She said, “Are you jesting? Marriage? That’s just the art of saying no.”

She said, “Do you mind if I smoke? Do you mind if I place this cigarette between my moist lips, and set it on fire?”

Tyler: Like several other pieces in this collection, this story is segmented and subtitled, making flash fiction—already a brief form—read even faster, with even more staccato rhythm. The whole piece has a unity and fluidity that works like magic and makes me wonder if pacing was the reason behind breaking this story into smaller moments? Or is there something in the freedom of re-titling each movement and heading up a new perspective?

Lovelace: My whole life is segments. I have kids, way too many hobbies (obsessive disc golfer, obsessive marathoner, like to fish and hunt, etc). I have my beer. I am editing a lit mag (The Broken Plate—please send us work [our submission period is Sept-Oct]). Then I am trying to write. I keep feeling time is running out and Time really is, you know, running out, so I try to cram as much as possible into the day/week/life. Like Regis Philbin. So I think it all bleeds into my writing. All these fragmented ways. I’m not sure it’s the best way, but I can’t do straight narrative anymore, like a Freytag’s or whatnot. I wish I could sometimes. I keep writing in these blocks. Then I stick the blocks together, like collage. It seems to work, or often not. I don’t have any ulcers. I can beat most men in a road race.

5: “Molasses”

Tyler: Unlike the previous pieces, there is an overwhelming sadness layered into this story, pecking at the reader in images of junk-collectors and the elderly—how things go away.

I watched her round the corner and collected my bags of yeast and barley and I swear each one of them weighed ten thousand pounds.

In what way do you construct or build emotion into your writing? And is it, for you, mostly in the images you set in the piece, or more so in the characters/voices/narration?

Lovelace: Well, I think it’s tone. How does the writer perceive the story, the situation? Like say Batman. Ok, all these directors keep making these Batman movies. Jesus, how many are there now? But look how each director controls his/her take on Batman. One director thinks this is serious, man, heavy, like literary—Batman is all angst and Freudian and psychologically bent and we need a shot of him with a wrenched face, lonely on big-ass fucking rooftop moon, etc. Maybe he kicks a dog or gets drunk or admits to Cat Lady he’s scared of tunnels and high heel shoes. Then the next director is cynical and thinks an audience is a stupid monster, a lazy, adolescent monster, and all the monster wants is diversion, that’s it, diversion, with celebrities and fast cars and sharp angles all sparkly and big laughs, bigger explosions and we need some cleavage and a bodysuit protruding flesh and maybe another explosion and one more celebrity cameo. On and on…You can show Batman’s story a thousand ways (and apparently they will), right? It’s about tone.  “Molasses” is about change. My tone on the subject, in this instance, is sadness.

6. “Wal-Mart”

The phone I bought at Wal-Mart rings and I pick it up and Bear says, “I’m gonna kill you you skinny freshman motherfucker!”

Tyler: See? Unexpected. Sherrie Flick was so right. But in this piece, the conclusion goes to a they/me dialogue, straight structured like a play. This is not used elsewhere in the book, and it leads me to ask how much you think about varying your structure? When starting a piece, are you already thinking of how it will be different from the last?

Lovelace: This story makes me sweat. I slept with this woman and almost got my ass stomped. Anyway, I have no idea why this piece ended this way. I think maybe I thought it so ordinary in draft, so felt the need to diverge. You know ending a flash is so critical, so can be rather difficult. As to your larger question, I do look for motley cloth in a collection, but you have to understand I have files of flash fiction. They aren’t collected, so I might have just added this story because I felt it “fit” this collection, as in overall, larger thematic and structural concerns. It seemed to link a bit with “Meteorite,” maybe because of setting. Not sure. I might have been drunk.

7. “How Some People Like Their Eggs”

thelonious monk:

No human being knows how Thelonious Monk likes his eggs.

Tyler: The title piece of the book, and it is worth the wait. Again, broken into digestible segments and with a through-line of only literally how people like their eggs. The amazing feature here is that even without ‘story’, I am compelled forward. The subtitle of a celebrity name makes me want to know how you will make them like their eggs, how you will push them to fit your language. How often do these kinds of pop-culture references make their way into your writing? And when they do, how do you keep it from seeming hollow, from being a mere culture capture?

Lovelace: Celebrity is important to my writing. They are the only gods I see left. The largest drug we take. I mean it’s so fascinating, to know these people’s names and their sex lives and their incomes and all this personal shit, and most of us don’t even know—or want to know!—that about our own family, or the neighbor. I keep asking what is this celebrity phenomenon? It fuels my fiction. I think fiction can provide answers, by working, re-working a thing. I still haven’t figured our obsessive need to follow these people, to like and love them, to desire them, especially when so many of them are clearly awful human beings. Why do I need to see their bodies in bathing suits/baby carriage/crotch shot/newest lover/newest Disney green dress/drug-addled party flesh/DJ/car crash/cancer scare/charity whore/ etc.? Who knows? Are they us, by proxy? Are they who we need or want to be? Are they our personal Satan? Or—and excuse me Depeche Mode—our Jesus? Are they mirror or a cocaine mirror or my reflection on the face of a deep well? Fuck. I really don’t know, so I just keep writing about them. They just appear.

As for being hollow, that happens. I mean probably 10% of what I write makes it forward and actually works in any real way. So I leave a lot of dead celebrities on the shoulder of DELETE highway.

8. “Crow Hunting”

Tyler: Though it is referenced in an earlier story, this is the piece that sets down the events of crow hunting, gearing up to meet a Wednesday:

Crisp, uplifting, green.

I could easily inhale the odor of pine all day.

But this was Wednesday, so I turned to the shed’s padlock. It was a copper lock and to open it you had to sigh into a tiny hole in its center. I sighed and stepped inside.

The way this piece works is by cutting itself into options and sounds, the way the calls make noise, the words moving in and out of themselves in a shifting structure. Is it important for you to avoid the straight paragraph normalcy that we see in most books? How do you think this kind of structural playfulness affects readers as they pour through a collection like this?

Lovelace: I’m not sure how it affects readers. I just know that when I read something even remotely fresh I go, “OK, you can do the thing this way, too.” (Then I of course immediately try to steal the writer’s idea.)  Like with Shane Jones, that shit’s inspiring. To see the language float and flow and blossom. I think crows speak in poetry. Crows are badass. People have been writing some wicked crow books lately, I have noticed.

9. “Coffee Pot Tree”

With hearts of eggshell and blue we finally had the old Coffee Pot Tree down…

Tyler: We go back now to the surreal, this piece connecting our items with our insides, building a ligament between objects and emotions. Do you see this as a theme in your work, the ways in which people are connected to the world? And here, in this piece, does it stand for more than what it is on the surface?

Lovelace: I really believe all objects are metaphorical. And I don’t mean in that “Hey, look at my lit PhD badge I’m wearing” way. It’s nothing to do with academia. I mean objects, in their very essence, are metaphors. We live with metaphors continually, so like a swimming fish, we don’t see the very water. Take flowers. Look at what we do with flowers, as a symbol, a business, an emotion, and it’s a fucking plant! We rarely use it as a plant, much more often as a metaphor. But I digress. This story is about my dad. My dad lived in the suburbs but his soul lived on the farm. His whole yard was an organic farming jungle mess. It looked like Heart of Darkness up in that yard: vines and crazy trees and bananas dangling and giant-ass arterial red flowers and goldfish ponds and fern gardens and what the hell?  He tried to raise rabbits in the backyard. He put bee houses on the lawn! The neighbors couldn’t handle it, all this resistance to the neat and orderly suburb. Man, my dad would have loved a coffee pot tree, or maybe a beer shrub.

So here’s to you, dad. Fuck the killjoy neighbors.

10. “Endings”

Tyler: Though we expect a novel to wrap-up in its final pages, we often are not afforded that pleasure in story collections. But here, you have given us not one but seven endings, each with their own peppering of violent brevity:

A ferret twists free from the arms of his owner and runs directly into a passing train.

And while I have been focusing on the differences of each piece from the next, in these endings we see more fish, more animals, and one more semi that takes out someone. When putting together this book, was this always the planned end? And does it intentionally connect together so many elements of the previous stories?

Lovelace: It was never a planned conclusion, but people love this flash at readings, so why not? I’m not sure why they like it so much. The sudden violence? I just listened to this guy at the university one day talk about how all the writers would respond to the perpetual warfare—Iraq, Afghanistan—following 9/11, how everyone would grow up in this odd, psychological (and for some, physical) miasma/milieu of war, war, war. And I went home and wrote this piece. I was answering the lecturer dude. Like this, I was thinking: all stories will end with a fucking bomb. BOOM!

Tyler: Thanks Sean for answering all of this. We wanted insight and you gave it. Bravo.

Lovelace: Oh no, thank you. What a great interview. A work of art, really, and I thank you again for such a close reading of Eggs.

Tyler: So to all of you who are not me, holding this book, and not Sean, having written it, go buy this collection. Rose Metal Press did a phenomenal job with its layout and design, and How Some People Like Their Eggs will stir you in all the right places.

Sherrie Flick told me, and I listened.

Listen.

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

An Interview/Review of Sean Lovelace’s How Some People Like Their Eggs

By j. a. tyler

Tyler: Sean, I haven’t even emailed you yet. But I assume that writers want to do interviews, even if they are super busy writers like I think you probably are, so I am going to write these questions as if we have already talked through our inboxes and you already said, “Yeah, sure, I would love to do an interview/review kind of thing,” and then I said back to you, “Awesome, thanks for playing along,” and we started talking for real.

How Some People Like Their Eggs, your delightful chapbook, winner of the Rose Metal Press’s Third Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest judged by Sherrie Flick, is a collection of ten brief wandering stories. I would like to go through each piece in this one at a time, reviewing and interviewing as we go—sound fair? Good. You are so easy to work with.

1. ”Meterorite”

In Sherri Flick’s intro, she says that your sentences are “unexpected”—and that is certainly what I was most struck by in reading the opening piece “Meteorite.” Like this:

It makes me think of god and lack of god and luck—good, bad, out of, etc.—and this newspaper story I read last summer about a Good Samaritan who pulled over on the highway to help change a woman’s tire and was struck dead by a semi. I think of that exhausted word, destiny.

Those sentences bend into one another, dip down and then back up, carrying me. It seems so molded and faultless, nothing scattered, all words poised and placed, ready to tip with a reader. Is this evidence of a careful revision process, of placing words so precisely? Or do they simply fall out this way for you?

Lovelace: I am large into sentences, probably because I teach. Students come into my office and ask, “Could I be a writer?” and I answer, “Do you love sentences?” Then I show them Blake Butler or Erika Lopez or Peter Markus or Diane Williams, and go, “Look. Look how much these people love the sentence.” Faulkner once wrote a 43 page sentence. Then again, “Stop!” is a sentence. The way to write a decent sentence is a mix of natural and lucky flow—to get into a Kelly Clarkson of language, but this is rare, for me. The established method is to write a clunky or flat sentence, then slice/revise/grind/revise/boom! I wish writing had more shortcuts, but it does not.

2. “Charlie Brown’s Diary: Excerpts”

I wake, and hear the bird coughing. Some dog barking. My coal-smudge eyes sting with sleep. In a hotel near a train station, yawning off Löwenbräu fumes in my zig-zag shirt.

Tyler: Here, in the second text, the mood is a wonderful mixture of wit and darkness, taking Charlie Brown, a cultural icon of depression, and pressing his face deeper in the mud. But being clever in writing is difficult, and lacing it with darkness is even more challenging. How do you work to play with humor in your writing? And how often do you think about the balance of emotional range within an intentionally clever piece?

Lovelace: Someone once said, “Cleverness is a thin drug.” Not sure who and I don’t feel like Googling. But you have to be regardful with clever. Again, since I teach, I see legions trying to be funny, and that can go really wrong. For me, the thing I have to ask myself is what do I do in my work different from most others? Or what is my crunky-style, I suppose. Or what can it be? And I notice I write quite a bit of persona work, like with Chuck here. And I can sometimes be funny. Funny is fucking hard. You can fake serious, but it’s hell to fake funny, almost impossible. So I try to use my innate sense. The humor with Chuck is of course sad, dark humor, one way to deal with the Charlie Brown within us. Again, a lot of this comes from revision. I cut a lot of stuff I thought was witty or sly in the drafts. Once in a while I am actually funny. It works, occasionally, sort of. I mean I write a lot of bad stuff (people who read my work cheering now).

3. “I Love Bocce”

Tyler: What happens in the third piece is that we see your approach to the surreal, replacing every word and action with bocce, verbing bocce, nouning bocce, until I see in my head nothing but bocce balls crossing and re-crossing the sky, bocce jetliners.

Everyone nodded his or her head. I felt like a cloud in someone else’s dream.

It is a rare occurrence to find writers who can negotiate the realistic, the clever, and the surreal, all with the equal vibrancy that you do in these first three stories. Do you think about these varied approaches when you write? Or is this just a symptom of different contexts, changing content?

Lovelace: Another smart question. You have smart questions, which means you read and took time to apply your intellect to this writing, so I thank you. Seriously.

It is content and context. I mean I never start a story trying to write it one way. Or let me backpedal. If I do begin that way, it falls to the ground like a breast-shot dove. It won’t usually “click.” All three of the stories are really about the world not meeting its preconceived idea. Cancer is chaos and entropy. Charlie Brown wakes up every day and he’s kicking (not) that damn football. The bocce thing is really just how none of us can truly communicate with each other. A very frustrating aspect of daily life. And lonely. Also, full disclosure, I was obsessed with bocce when I wrote this story. Now I just kindly like the sport.

4. “A Sigh is Just a Sigh”

She said, “You ever seen a Nordic woman naked? Skin like fresh milk…”

She said, “Are you jesting? Marriage? That’s just the art of saying no.”

She said, “Do you mind if I smoke? Do you mind if I place this cigarette between my moist lips, and set it on fire?”

Tyler: Like several other pieces in this collection, this story is segmented and subtitled, making flash fiction—already a brief form—read even faster, with even more staccato rhythm. The whole piece has a unity and fluidity that works like magic and makes me wonder if pacing was the reason behind breaking this story into smaller moments? Or is there something in the freedom of re-titling each movement and heading up a new perspective?

Lovelace: My whole life is segments. I have kids, way too many hobbies (obsessive disc golfer, obsessive marathoner, like to fish and hunt, etc). I have my beer. I am editing a lit mag (The Broken Plate—please send us work [our submission period is Sept-Oct]). Then I am trying to write. I keep feeling time is running out and Time really is, you know, running out, so I try to cram as much as possible into the day/week/life. Like Regis Philbin. So I think it all bleeds into my writing. All these fragmented ways. I’m not sure it’s the best way, but I can’t do straight narrative anymore, like a Freytag’s or whatnot. I wish I could sometimes. I keep writing in these blocks. Then I stick the blocks together, like collage. It seems to work, or often not. I don’t have any ulcers. I can beat most men in a road race.

5: “Molasses”

Tyler: Unlike the previous pieces, there is an overwhelming sadness layered into this story, pecking at the reader in images of junk-collectors and the elderly—how things go away.

I watched her round the corner and collected my bags of yeast and barley and I swear each one of them weighed ten thousand pounds.

In what way do you construct or build emotion into your writing? And is it, for you, mostly in the images you set in the piece, or more so in the characters/voices/narration?

Lovelace: Well, I think it’s tone. How does the writer perceive the story, the situation? Like say Batman. Ok, all these directors keep making these Batman movies. Jesus, how many are there now? But look how each director controls his/her take on Batman. One director thinks this is serious, man, heavy, like literary—Batman is all angst and Freudian and psychologically bent and we need a shot of him with a wrenched face, lonely on big-ass fucking rooftop moon, etc. Maybe he kicks a dog or gets drunk or admits to Cat Lady he’s scared of tunnels and high heel shoes. Then the next director is cynical and thinks an audience is a stupid monster, a lazy, adolescent monster, and all the monster wants is diversion, that’s it, diversion, with celebrities and fast cars and sharp angles all sparkly and big laughs, bigger explosions and we need some cleavage and a bodysuit protruding flesh and maybe another explosion and one more celebrity cameo. On and on…You can show Batman’s story a thousand ways (and apparently they will), right? It’s about tone.  “Molasses” is about change. My tone on the subject, in this instance, is sadness.

6. “Wal-Mart”

The phone I bought at Wal-Mart rings and I pick it up and Bear says, “I’m gonna kill you you skinny freshman motherfucker!”

Tyler: See? Unexpected. Sherrie Flick was so right. But in this piece, the conclusion goes to a they/me dialogue, straight structured like a play. This is not used elsewhere in the book, and it leads me to ask how much you think about varying your structure? When starting a piece, are you already thinking of how it will be different from the last?

Lovelace: This story makes me sweat. I slept with this woman and almost got my ass stomped. Anyway, I have no idea why this piece ended this way. I think maybe I thought it so ordinary in draft, so felt the need to diverge. You know ending a flash is so critical, so can be rather difficult. As to your larger question, I do look for motley cloth in a collection, but you have to understand I have files of flash fiction. They aren’t collected, so I might have just added this story because I felt it “fit” this collection, as in overall, larger thematic and structural concerns. It seemed to link a bit with “Meteorite,” maybe because of setting. Not sure. I might have been drunk.

7. “How Some People Like Their Eggs”

thelonious monk:

No human being knows how Thelonious Monk likes his eggs.

Tyler: The title piece of the book, and it is worth the wait. Again, broken into digestible segments and with a through-line of only literally how people like their eggs. The amazing feature here is that even without ‘story’, I am compelled forward. The subtitle of a celebrity name makes me want to know how you will make them like their eggs, how you will push them to fit your language. How often do these kinds of pop-culture references make their way into your writing? And when they do, how do you keep it from seeming hollow, from being a mere culture capture?

Lovelace: Celebrity is important to my writing. They are the only gods I see left. The largest drug we take. I mean it’s so fascinating, to know these people’s names and their sex lives and their incomes and all this personal shit, and most of us don’t even know—or want to know!—that about our own family, or the neighbor. I keep asking what is this celebrity phenomenon? It fuels my fiction. I think fiction can provide answers, by working, re-working a thing. I still haven’t figured our obsessive need to follow these people, to like and love them, to desire them, especially when so many of them are clearly awful human beings. Why do I need to see their bodies in bathing suits/baby carriage/crotch shot/newest lover/newest Disney green dress/drug-addled party flesh/DJ/car crash/cancer scare/charity whore/ etc.? Who knows? Are they us, by proxy? Are they who we need or want to be? Are they our personal Satan? Or—and excuse me Depeche Mode—our Jesus? Are they mirror or a cocaine mirror or my reflection on the face of a deep well? Fuck. I really don’t know, so I just keep writing about them. They just appear.

As for being hollow, that happens. I mean probably 10% of what I write makes it forward and actually works in any real way. So I leave a lot of dead celebrities on the shoulder of DELETE highway.

8. “Crow Hunting”

Tyler: Though it is referenced in an earlier story, this is the piece that sets down the events of crow hunting, gearing up to meet a Wednesday:

Crisp, uplifting, green.

I could easily inhale the odor of pine all day.

But this was Wednesday, so I turned to the shed’s padlock. It was a copper lock and to open it you had to sigh into a tiny hole in its center. I sighed and stepped inside.

The way this piece works is by cutting itself into options and sounds, the way the calls make noise, the words moving in and out of themselves in a shifting structure. Is it important for you to avoid the straight paragraph normalcy that we see in most books? How do you think this kind of structural playfulness affects readers as they pour through a collection like this?

Lovelace: I’m not sure how it affects readers. I just know that when I read something even remotely fresh I go, “OK, you can do the thing this way, too.” (Then I of course immediately try to steal the writer’s idea.)  Like with Shane Jones, that shit’s inspiring. To see the language float and flow and blossom. I think crows speak in poetry. Crows are badass. People have been writing some wicked crow books lately, I have noticed.

9. “Coffee Pot Tree”

With hearts of eggshell and blue we finally had the old Coffee Pot Tree down…

Tyler: We go back now to the surreal, this piece connecting our items with our insides, building a ligament between objects and emotions. Do you see this as a theme in your work, the ways in which people are connected to the world? And here, in this piece, does it stand for more than what it is on the surface?

Lovelace: I really believe all objects are metaphorical. And I don’t mean in that “Hey, look at my lit PhD badge I’m wearing” way. It’s nothing to do with academia. I mean objects, in their very essence, are metaphors. We live with metaphors continually, so like a swimming fish, we don’t see the very water. Take flowers. Look at what we do with flowers, as a symbol, a business, an emotion, and it’s a fucking plant! We rarely use it as a plant, much more often as a metaphor. But I digress. This story is about my dad. My dad lived in the suburbs but his soul lived on the farm. His whole yard was an organic farming jungle mess. It looked like Heart of Darkness up in that yard: vines and crazy trees and bananas dangling and giant-ass arterial red flowers and goldfish ponds and fern gardens and what the hell?  He tried to raise rabbits in the backyard. He put bee houses on the lawn! The neighbors couldn’t handle it, all this resistance to the neat and orderly suburb. Man, my dad would have loved a coffee pot tree, or maybe a beer shrub.

So here’s to you, dad. Fuck the killjoy neighbors.

10. “Endings”

Tyler: Though we expect a novel to wrap-up in its final pages, we often are not afforded that pleasure in story collections. But here, you have given us not one but seven endings, each with their own peppering of violent brevity:

A ferret twists free from the arms of his owner and runs directly into a passing train.

And while I have been focusing on the differences of each piece from the next, in these endings we see more fish, more animals, and one more semi that takes out someone. When putting together this book, was this always the planned end? And does it intentionally connect together so many elements of the previous stories?

Lovelace: It was never a planned conclusion, but people love this flash at readings, so why not? I’m not sure why they like it so much. The sudden violence? I just listened to this guy at the university one day talk about how all the writers would respond to the perpetual warfare—Iraq, Afghanistan—following 9/11, how everyone would grow up in this odd, psychological (and for some, physical) miasma/milieu of war, war, war. And I went home and wrote this piece. I was answering the lecturer dude. Like this, I was thinking: all stories will end with a fucking bomb. BOOM!

Tyler: Thanks Sean for answering all of this. We wanted insight and you gave it. Bravo.

Lovelace: Oh no, thank you. What a great interview. A work of art, really, and I thank you again for such a close reading of Eggs.

Tyler: So to all of you who are not me, holding this book, and not Sean, having written it, go buy this collection. Rose Metal Press did a phenomenal job with its layout and design, and How Some People Like Their Eggs will stir you in all the right places.

Sherrie Flick told me, and I listened.

Listen.

  1. […] October 5, 2009 · Leave a Comment Wow, The Chapbook Review interviews me about Eggs. […]

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