Tag archive for "what writers do"

Q & A

More Than Just Another “Kahlua & Breast Milk Story”

20 May 2012

brake drumRecently, assistant editor David Rawson posed a number of questions to Benjamin Reed about his story, “Surprise Me With Something Familiar” (Spring 2007).  Benjamin responded with generosity, insight, and hilarity – way more than we could have hoped for.

How does this story fit into the rest of your work?

I remember it was one of the first couple times I thought I’d written a “polished” piece. But back then I didn’t read a lot of literary journals and I had a really naive perspective of contemporary fiction. I think I judged all my manuscripts in terms of whether or not they might get accepted by Glimmer Train.

How did this story come to be?

I was a bartender for a long time, in a small, dark lounge on Red River, what used to be the very edge of downtown Austin. It was so dark, all the light was from a few dozen red venetian candles and the glowing ends of people’s cigarettes. We poured beers practically by feel, and mixed drinks by sound and texture. We hated making white Russians. Cream–really it’s half-and-half–froths when you shake it. It expands. It gets everywhere, all over your hands, the bar, the bar mats, your shirt, the upside-down glass you use to cap your shaker tin–everywhere. And after you make a white Russian you have to rinse everything extra, which clouds the blue water of the sanitatizing sink. And usually the people ordering them were amateurs, posers, or young men who over-identified with The Big Lebowski.

As such, the manager was constantly “forgetting” to buy half-and-half. So we were always being prompted to suggest a replacement. Usually this would be Bailey’s. One night, we started joking about making white Russians with breast milk. One of our bartenders had just come back to work after having a baby, and was always talking about lactating and pumping. I asked her if she would be up for a donation. Just a few ounces. She said she’d think about it. When I asked again later she replied with a decisive “No.” I assume she’d mentioned it to her husband, and he clearly did not think it was as amusing an idea as I did.

 

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Come-As-You-Are-Party

Our first guest = Kyle Minor

25 February 2012

Kyle Minor's HandI’m told Sou’wester is throwing a Come As You Are Party. Well, here I am, or my hand, anyway, at my mess of a work desk. Reason #1 for the mess: I’m eyeballs-deep in the final revision of my novel-in-progress, which will be titled The Sexual Lives of Missionaries. Reason #2: This is how messy my desk always gets, and the only reason it ever gets less messy is because I keep a to-do list, and on the fourth Thursday of every month, I tend the line item that reads: “Clean your desk.”

The stack of books on the left is part pleasure reading, part research. The Atlas of Anatomy and Gray’s Anatomy are for the novel that will follow the novel I’m writing. Its construction requires me to know more than I now know about bodily organs, their natures and appearances, and how they decay after death. (There’s a stack behind this stack on the subject of “morbid anatomy,” which means that every time I leave the library I get funny looks from the desk clerks, who surely wonder whether I’m a medical student or an axe murderer.)

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Strange Warnings

Reading labels, because that’s what writers do.

02 February 2012

banana in a ziploc bag

Remove Plastic Before Eating

Last summer, at an editorial-ish meeting, we were delighted to see this on a certain beverage label: “Contains live yeast; a sediment may form.” Thus arose the inspiration for one aspect of our new cover look – the incorporation of the odd and/or absurd product warning.

We encourage you to send us your own odd finds, as text or image.