Mini-Interviews

The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #81: Chanelle Benz

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Chanelle Benz’s debut collection, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, is filled with characters often facing a moral crossroads. The stories contain the unexpected, like a classic Western complete with local brothel as well as a gothic tale.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview #80: Jon Raymond

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Jon Raymond is one of Portland’s finest wordsmiths. His writing spans TV, film, short story, novel, art criticism, and a hefty array of magazine work. His new novel, Freebird, is the story of a Californian Jewish family entangled in clashing politics, unspoken histories, and personal dissolve.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #79: Kelcey Parker Ervick

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The woman whose face appears on the Czech five-hundred koruna doesn’t appear there without consequence. During the late 19th century, politically active Božena Němcová was an innovator of Czech literature. Twenty-first century writer Kelcey Parker Ervick continues Němcová’s legacy in her own fairy tale-like work: a biographical collage, The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #78: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

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In 2016, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram’s writing won the Narrative Poetry Contest. Bertram’s work is formally and thematically expansive and this sampling, called “Facts About Deer and Other Poems,” showcases her incredible range. In the poem “They were armed with long guns”—a poem written in ten parts—the sections move between lists, plain declarations like, “You know // where this / is going.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #77: Hauschka

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Lion could be a simple homecoming story, the prodigal son returning to the place he was born. Except, the son in question was six when he left. Now, he’s twenty-six and his story is far from simple. Garth Davis’s film, like his TV offering Top of the Lake, is a beautiful, emotional rollercoaster. 

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #76: Chris Tusa

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Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, Chris Tusa’s second novel, In the City of Falling Stars (Livingston Press, September 2016), tells a tale of paranoia and intrigue. Maurice Delahoussaye witnesses dead birds falling from the sky, and becomes convinced the air is toxic.

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The Rumpus Mini Interview Project #75: Deborah Kampmeier

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I met Deborah Kampmeier at a workshop in November. We were two weeks post-election; the room was raw with emotion, and electric with conversations about resistance. This tall, badass woman dressed in all black sauntered into the room, and chose a seat at the table.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #74: Alexandra Naughton

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Alexandra Naughton is a writer who grew up in Philadelphia but converted to a California girl in 2008. She runs BE ABOUT IT, a small press and reading series and is an active member in Bay Area literary shenanigans.

Over the course of some days I talked via Google Docs, and later email, with Naughton about her first novel American Mary as well as her creative process, writing across genres, and the books that most influenced her.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #73: Maggie Shipstead

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I first met Maggie Shipstead in 2011 when she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She had not yet published her first novel, Seating Arrangements, which would later become a New York Times bestseller, but even then the magnitude of her ambition, shrewdness, and intellectual generosity was evident.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #72: Laurie Sheck

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Laurie Sheck is the author, most recently, of Island of the Mad, and A Monster’s Notes, a re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry for The Willow Grove, she has been a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. 

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #71: Kris D’Agostino

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In Kris D’Agostino’s second novel, The Antiques, he returns to familiar forms: A dysfunctional family whose members are in various stages of arrested development; a generational home in upstate New York; and the absurdity of life in its most darkly comedic moments.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #70: Jean Conner

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Jean Conner was married to Bruce Conner from 1957 until his death in 2008. As a result, she tends to be overshadowed by her husband’s larger than life reputation as an artist, filmmaker, light show pioneer, and all-around conceptual provocateur. But Jean is a major artist in her own right, continuously pursuing her work as a painter and collagist, of which the recently reissued Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle affords only a tantalizing glimpse.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #69: Steven Schwartz

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Steven Schwartz’s new book, Madagascar: New and Selected Stories, positively aches (often sighs, sometimes chuckles) with wisdom. Steven understands people. He understands why they do what they do, how they feel when they’ve done it, and he understands too how the twists of life can disrupt all of that so people act in peculiar, unexpected ways and respond with surprising acts.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #68: David Kukoff

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“To read,” wrote E.M. Cioran, “is to let someone else do the work for you.” Indeed, David Kukoff has done extensive footwork collecting an array of varied experiences to give us an idea of what it was to live in LA during what might arguably be one of its most pivotal decades.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #67: Anuradha Roy

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A tranquil beach town named Jarmuli is the setting of Anuradha Roy’s third novel, Sleeping on Jupiter, which won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and made the longlist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Four older women travel as friends in search of a bucolic vacation, and a young woman, contending with the trauma of her past, finds her stay in Jarmuli tied with theirs.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #66: Reimagining Children’s Literature as Mixtape

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In the best collaborations, creative individuals push themselves to work with new media and singular, wild things issue forth. Jeff Antebi of Waxploitation Records has managed to create just this kind of magic in his book, Stories for Ways and Means.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #65: Amy Dupcak

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I first met Amy Dupcak at The Book Report Network in 2011, where she was an editorial assistant and I, a marketing assistant. We’d shoot off AOL Instant Messages to one another smirking over our computer screens, and leave simultaneously to take lunch.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #64: Lianne Stokes

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Hi there! We’re the two brunettes who hate sex. Sara-Kate hates sex because it’s too aerobic—she once sprained her foot. She lives in Kips Bay, loves candy, and wears exclusively rompers. Elisa Jordana hates sex because she abhors the human penis and all its functions.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #63: Patrick Madden

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Patrick Madden teaches writing at Brigham Young University and is the author of the essay collection Quotidiana. His essays frequently appear in literary magazines and have been featured in The Best Creative Nonfiction and The Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #62: Julian Tepper

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Upon publication of his first novel, Balls, author Julian Tepper received pointed advice from one Philip Roth: quit. What the elder statesman, on the verge of his own retirement, was trying to say is that the writing life is “just torture,” and he should spare himself the suffering.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #61: Thalia Field

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Thalia Field’s latest work, Experimental Animals: (A Reality Fiction), published by Solid Objects, is a novel that makes you wonder anew about the possibilities of the genre. Told in the voice of Marie Francoise “Fanny” Bernard, wife of Claude Bernard, a founder of physiology and zealous practitioner of vivisection, the book is the culmination of over a decade of research and work.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #60: Leah Kaminsky

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Leah Kaminsky’s debut novel, The Waiting Room, depicts one fateful day in the life of an Australian doctor and mother, Dina, living in Haifa, Israel. Dina is trying to maintain normalcy as she goes about her work as a family doctor, cares for her son, and fights to preserve her faltering relationship with her husband, with whom she’s expecting a daughter.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #59: Marisa Silver

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Marisa Silver is a formidable writer. The world she weaves is masterfully laid out. Her sharp eye focuses on the brutal changes that women experience, not just emotionally but physically as well. Her beautiful, dreamy novel, Little Nothing, is a story of transformation and love.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #58: James Steven Sadwith

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A self-described “actor’s director,” James Steven Sadwith has been writing, directing, and producing television movies, miniseries, and dramas for nearly three decades—and is perhaps best known for his work on the lives of Frank Sinatra and Elvis. But for Coming through the Rye, his first feature film for the big screen, Sadwith comes closer to home, chronicling in fictional form the journey he himself embarked upon as a youth.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #57: Jesse Ball

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It can be hard to describe a Jesse Ball novel. They’re willfully strange, dark and puzzling, but the pieces aren’t always designed to fit together. Instead, each of his books, which are always written in the first person, have a tendency to take the reader into the heads of the lead characters, which is often more treacherous than the physical landscape.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #56: Patricia Engel

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I met one of my favorite writers before she ever published a single story. We were classmates vying for our MFAs in Creative Writing from Florida International University and would smile at each other from across the room. She was shy, but never defensive, in workshop and always strove, really made the effort, to answer questions about her work and decisions on the page as fully as she could.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #55: Donald Ray Pollock

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Donald Ray Pollock has been steadily serving up plates of mild horror since his first book of short stories, Knockemstiff, appeared in 2008. Pollock followed the explosion of Knockemstiff with The Devil All the Time, in 2011, his first novel, which also bordered on the genre of mystery, again with generous servings of darkness.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #54: Jade Chang on The Wangs vs. the World

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With a mix of humor, agility, and insight, Jade Chang’s debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World (HMH Books, October 2016), tells a fresh immigrant story. Charles Wang has left his native homeland to become a successful businessman in America. The book takes us on a journey with his whole family as they navigate the ups and downs of fortune and travel across the US.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #53: Meet WTAW Press

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Peg Alford Pursell is the author of the forthcoming book of flash and hybrid prose, Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow (ELJ Publications). Her work has been published in VOLT, the Journal of Compressed Arts, and RHINO, among others, and shortlisted for the Flannery O’Connor Award.

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The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #52: Lauren Wissot in Conversation with Stoya

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Edited by queer porn performer and LGBTQ activist Jiz Lee, Coming Out Like a Porn Star is a wide-ranging compilation of answers to questions only sex industry pros seem to get. (And if you guessed, “Does your mother know?” to be at the top of the queries you are correct.)

Since the announcement of the book early last year, the sex worker-penned anthology has been named to Reason’s list of “Best Sex-Work Books of 2015,” and has even made it onto the syllabi at college campuses.

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