Durga Chew Bose's essay collection Too Much and Not the Mood "bristles with slow and tender inquisitiveness, carefully wrought anecdotes and character studies, devotion to detail, and nuanced structure in which form engages with content" (Los Angeles Review of Books). Durga recently...
Authors and Editors in Conversation
Eric Chinski: In The Fun Parts you're returning to short stories after publishing a novel, The Ask. Do you approach writing stories and novels differently?
Sam Lipsyte: Once I know what I’m writing I start to approach them differently, but in the beginning I’m just trying to get something down on the page. As I go I can start to sense whether it’s opening up and might be something longer or if a closing is already in view. Sometimes I know it’s a short story from the start but often it takes a little while. Nathanael West, who wrote rather short novels, said, “You only have time to explode.” I think of that when I write the short pieces. You are creating a new world and new language to navigate it and there will be some nice effects along the way, but you are usually after a single moment for the piece to turn on. You are putting something – characters in the case of some stories, the very mode of utterance in others – under increasing pressure. It’s the same with the novel, in some sense, but you vary the pressure, digress in a controlled way, gather in more stories to feed into a larger narrative.
Eric Chinski: I don't think it quite hit me until I heard you read from The Ask a few years ago, but there's clearly a Sam Lipsyte sentence. I heard music at that reading. Your sentences are as much about rhythm and sound as character and plot. How do you think about the sentence in the broader context of a story?