laura van den berg

Nice interviews with Laura van den Berg on the event of her debut What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us live now @lunapark and @thefastertimes.

Word Spaces(4): Laura van den Berg

I met Laura van den Berg at AWP one year. She had written something nice on a rejection note to me after I sent something to Redivider a while ago, and so I tracked her down and said hello. Since then we’ve been in touch, seen each other around, though she’s a bit busier than I – she’s on staff at PloughsharesMemorious, and West Branch, and she has a book of stories called What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us forthcoming from Dzanc this November. A recent story of hers can be read online at the Boston Review site.

Anyhow, I thought it would be interesting to see where she gets her work done (and then somehow exactly recreate it in my own apartment).


Here’s what Laura has to say:

My workspace is in the kitchen of a house in North Carolina, where I’ve been living with my boyfriend since September. My computer is set up on the kitchen/dining table, near a kind of big bay window. I love windows. I have wanted all my writing life to have a workspace with lots of windows. Since our town, Blowing Rock, is up in the mountains, there’s crazy fog sometimes—fog so thick I can’t see the shapes of the trees or the car in the driveway. It’s beautiful and eerie and I love it.

On the wall behind my chair, I’ve taped up postcards, pictures, Obama paraphernalia, and a map of Boston, where I used to live. On one side of my computer, there’s a basket that my brother brought back from Morocco, a mug/pen holder, a picture, and shoeboxes, which I’m using to store random office supplies. On the other side, I have phones, my planner, and a box of notecards that say “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.” To the right of my chair, there’s a little table, where I keep some books—right now, it’s Amy Hempel, Joy Williams, Alice Munro, Diane Williams, Kyle Minor, Deb Olin Unferth, Allison Amend. Also: lit mags; a photo book of Borneo, where I was going to set a novel; my notebook; a story I’m revising; a box of cards from the Met; a newspaper article on Darwin and Russell Wallace; Poets & Writers; another shoebox full of office supplies. The Joy Williams book I have here—The Quick and the Dead—is one of my favorite books of all times. Sometimes I open to a random page and read a paragraph and I’m always floored. Page 155, for example: “The television was on again. A startled bull with a ring through its immense nostrils stood in a river. Piranha swirled about. The bull turned gray like a block of chalk, then transparent, and then it was a skeleton, floating away.”

A set of headphones are nearby, in the basket, since I usually listen to music while working. I have somewhat schizophrenic taste in music—lately it’s been New Order, Postal Service, Sam Phillips, Jane’s Addiction, and David Bowie. My desk can be a little schizophrenic too—especially now, since I’m still unpacking from a long trip and have lots of little things that I don’t have good places for. There’s a lot of stacking going on. Pretty soon, we’re going to have to think about eating dinner elsewhere.

Thanks, Laura, for sharing.

Word Spaces / 21 Comments
January 7th, 2009 / 3:25 pm