News · 09/27/2010

Writer In Residence, October 2010

It’s a great pleasure to announce that our Writer In Residence for October 2010 will be Peter Grandbois. Peter’s work was new to me when his story “Carpentry” arrived in our submissions queue, but right away as I read that strange tale of magical suburbanism I knew he was a writer I wanted to read more from. So I have, including “Toilet Trouble”, another story in the series “Carpentry” belongs to, and his novel The Gravedigger — and I look forward to picking up The Arsenic Lobster and Nahoonkara soon.

About The Arsenic Lobster, Sven Birkerts writes,

In Peter Grandbois’ ‘hybrid’ memoir the materials of his suburban anomie are cut apart and thrust into arresting and disturbing juxtapositions. Passages of spiky adrenalin play against a melancholic, duende-driven introspection as identity is assembled and re-assembled in a strobe-lit chamber.

Birkerts may well be talking about the rest of Peter’s work, too, because the quality I enjoy and admire most in it — whether he’s writing about Spanish villagers or suburban chores — is the way ordinary, everyday life gets simultaneously threatened and confirmed by storytelling, the need to make our own lives into epics and the need to force other lives into the narrow narrative molds we allow them to keep our own vision of the world safe and secure. No surprise that he’s concerned with the ties between contemporary literature and oral traditions, and told an interviewer,

Orality is a remembered mode, so there is an associative prerogative, as opposed to a much more structured, ink and page document in which the writer has the opportunity to go back and edit. The leisure to say no, this has to follow this, in this order, because this resolution or this characterization has to be earned by a consistent system of layering. Oral storytellers are not as concerned about this construction of believability. The underlying verities of their heroes’, and of their villains’ psychological conditions are secondary. The story is the hero. The telling of the tale is the critical issue.

I’m always excited about experimentation that comes not from a break with tradition but rather an interrogation of it, and that’s what I so often find in Peter’s work. Whatever he chooses to share with us during his month as Writer In Residence — and I can’t wait to see what it is — I’m sure we’ll get a great story.