INTERVIEW WITH GREG GERKE
Greg Gerke is the author of THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH SVEN. His website is www.greggerke.com. He answered some questions I sent him, mostly about flash fiction, though some are about being a real life human being. Interview after break.
HTMLGIANT: Explain what draws you to write what is called flash fiction.
GG: The shortness of the form. Am I lazy? In a few minutes you have something, or at least a draft.
HTMLGIANT: Given the chance to directly give anybody your book, who would it be and why.
GG: I would give my two grandfathers the book. One I didn’t know at all, one died when I was eleven. I wouldn’t be giving them the book in the spirit of ‘Look, see what I’ve become,’ but more ‘Look, see what you’ve done.’
HTMLGIANT: What hobbies do you entertain, aside from writing, that you feel inflect your writing. How do they inflect your writing.
GG: Tennis, backgammon and finding the quietest place in the library. The first keeps me sane and fit, the second is a distraction and the third gives me ideas for writing because even the quietest place in the library is full of people talking on cell phones, talking to themselves and providing me with great sound bites.
HTMLGIANT: Have you ever read a book and thought it was really good and then read it again and disagreed with yourself? Which book. (for me it was THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD)
GG: Not really. But I’ve had the parallel experience a bunch of times. Christine Schutt and Gary Lutz. I thought it was ‘difficult for the sake of difficulty.’ Boy, I was incredibly wrong.
HMLGIANT: Analyze one of your own pieces of writing.
GG: ‘Loose Ends’ at Eyeshot is a plea from a nobody who wants to be a somebody. By portraying a famous writer as a plagiarist and conniving, the writer (Gerke) thinks he is speaking up for ‘the common writer’ who gets rejected everyday. Also by setting the story in New York and the penultimate scene in Central Park, the writer thinks he is a ‘big shot’ by casting his story in one of the most famous parks in the world. In short, the writer believes he is getting away with a tidy little tale of intrigue, when in truth he is just kvetching and miserable, using the wikipedia reference at the end as a preposterous attempt to impress Chad Wingo, the wiki-sheriff who continually deletes the page the writer creates for himself.
HTMLGIANT: If you were going to the shoe store to buy some shoes and you decided in the middle of the excursion to leave a note in one of the shoeboxes for someone else to find, what would the note say.
GG: You are wonderful.
HTMLGIANT: Speaking of literature, would you be willing to try going down a ski jump wearing only halved watermelons as skis.
GG: No, the watermelon is as sacred a being as a Chinese tiger or Condoleezza Rice. I would not do that to the watermelon.
HTMLGIANT: What is the worst injury you have sustained, emotionally or physically.
GG: Experiencing myself die (or so I thought) on a hospital bed in Brooklyn .
HTMLGIANT: Write a piece of flash fiction using this first line: “He knew he wouldn’t be able to successfully jump the ski slope wearing only halved watermelons.”
GG: “He knew he wouldn’t be able to successfully jump the ski slope wearing only halved watermelons. So he decided to shave in the lens of the Swiss Television camera. He then called his mother and reminded her to turn her curling iron off if she had by chance left it on. As he went down the slope he realized everything that was wrong with his life could have been rectified if he’d taking the extra Spanish classes, then he could have told her how much he loved her in Spanish and then she would have thought he was for real. But then he hit the ice embankment and it was all over.”
HTMLGIANT: Do you ever think about giving up, like with writing or with other things. Can you describe the feeling.
GG: Not too often. Maybe a flash of it every once in a while but it quickly disappears, like it is just floating in the air and not meant for me to breath in.
HTMLGIANT: Please reconcile here, an old schism between you and any classmate from the past.
GG: I once drop kicked this ‘friend’s’ bag of hot dogs when we were walking to a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. He was an asswipe and mean to my cat. Okay, deep breath, I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEE YOU!
HTMLGIANT: If you could choose your own death, what would it be.
GG: Having Liv Ullmann (circa 1967) batter me to death with the original hardcover of Blood Meridian.
HTMLGIANT: Is flash fiction ephemeral.
GG: I just had to look up ephemeral in the dictionary. Does that answer your question?
HTMLGIANT: What is the best piece of flash you have read.
GG: It’s a tie. “Pretty” by Kim Chinquee and ‘The Sock’ by Lydia Davis .
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