Christian TeBordo


When I Turn Off My Brain: An Interview w/ Christian TeBordo

In the summer of last year, Featherproof released The Awful Possibilities, the fourth book by Philadelphia’s Christian TeBordo. It is an assemblage of extreme range in sound and direction, as TeBordo’s work manages to funnel a kind of well-orchestrated, rising mania across a range of perspectives and situations, including teenage suburban thug rappers planning a school shooting, a logic-fucked woman involved in shady black market business in a hotel, a dude trying to buy a new wallet, deathbed advice minds, and several other hybrid enactments than in other hands would lack the flair of TeBordo’s ability to funnel livelanguage and feeling into seemingly any kind of body. As says George Saunders: “Christian TeBordo shows that it is possible to be, simultaneously, a wise old soul and a crazed young terror.”

Last month, Christian and I took some time emailing about the book, Christian’s experience of influence by Brian Evenson and others, the process of assembling a text, getting along in sound and structure, approach, revision, and nudie pics.

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BB: The Awful Possibilities is your first collection of short fiction after having published three novels. Do you see yourself more as a novelist, and is there a difference in your approach? Were these stories written over a long period of time?

CT: Let me answer these backwards, because that way it goes from easy to really hard. The stories in The Awful Possibilities were written over a little more than 10 years. One of the stories in there is the first I ever made that I considered a story. The most recent (the postcards), I sent to featherproof after they’d accepted the manuscript. Actually just before the book got laid out. I wrote and published my three novels during the same time. I don’t approach the forms differently when I sit down to write. For me it’s just the sentences and the persona that generates the sentences telling the larger work where to go. On the other hand, I try to do something different each time. People who read my last novel might recognize a sensibility or tendencies in The Awful Possibilities, but I hope nobody would be able to predict what one would be like having read only the other. The question of how I see myself is a little tougher. As a writer, I’m happy doing both. Stories are fun because sometimes you can just bulldoze through a draft in a sitting or two. Or you can spend weeks being really meticulous and crafty with a few paragraphs without getting disgusted by what you’re up to. Novels are fun because you have some sense of what you’re going back to each night and there’s more room to surprise yourself. The truth is, though, I feel more comfortable with short stories because I do want to be read, but I want my stuff to be an all-out assault, too, for now at least. I think people are more willing to put up with that for 10 pages than 200.


January 4th, 2011 / 2:13 pm