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Online Fiction Interview: Amber Sparks

There are at least as many ways to title a story as there are to write one. An author might conjure up a title that points to a story’s symbolic weight (“A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” say) while another might employ a seemingly benign phrase (“Family Furnishings”) only to have it churn and reverberate in the mind of a reader throughout the reading experience. And then there are the deceptively simple titles like Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” which, yes, is literally about a swimmer, but that doesn’t so much as hint at Neddy Merrill’s major troubles. Amber Sparks’s “The Janitor in Space” operates in this latter vein. Sure, the story’s about a janitor and, yes, this is a janitor who works in space, but if Cheever is really writing about social isolation, alcoholism, fear, and insecurity, then Sparks is not so much writing about cleaning up around the space station as she is writing about denial, loneliness, surviving trauma, and about the need to escape. […]

Amber-Headshot-BW-FEATURE

Online Fiction Interview: Amber Sparks

There are at least as many ways to title a story as there are to write one. An author might conjure up a title that points to a story’s symbolic weight (“A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” say) while another might employ a seemingly benign phrase (“Family Furnishings”) only to have it churn and reverberate in the mind of a reader throughout the reading experience. And then there are the deceptively simple titles like Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” which, yes, is literally about a swimmer, but that doesn’t so much as hint at Neddy Merrill’s major troubles. Amber Sparks’s “The Janitor in Space” operates in this latter vein. Sure, the story’s about a janitor and, yes, this is a janitor who works in space, but if Cheever is really writing about social isolation, alcoholism, fear, and insecurity, then Sparks is not so much writing about cleaning up around the space station as she is writing about denial, loneliness, surviving trauma, and about the need to escape. […]

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Until It Isn’t: An Interview with Antonya Nelson

Antonya Nelson’s eleventh book, Funny Once, was published this past May by Bloomsbury. The collection includes the story “Winter in Yalta,” which appears in the most recent issue of American Short Fiction. Over a slew of emails, she took some time to talk to me, among other things, about the origins of her love of reading, obsessive fascinations, and the difference between therapy and writing fiction. [...]

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Inside the Issue: Rob Roensch reads from “The Zoo and the World”

“The Zoo and the World,” Rob Roensch’s story in the Spring 2014 issue of American Short Fiction, is narrated by a man who has come to rely on his own exceptional competence, but finds himself suddenly out of his element. A rare animal trader, he has learned to value life as both a momentary, beautiful apparition […]

Alison McCabe

Online Fiction Interview: Alison McCabe

Alison McCabe’s “Heirloom” deftly trades in contrasts. Over the course of  a few hundred words, the diction evolves from the colloquial to the lyrical, and the strangest of details—a cat toy mistaken for a rodent, a son-in-law’s name long forgotten—are also the story’s most humorous. We recently emailed McCabe to ask about her work […]

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