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John Benditt in conversation with Nancy Pearl - University Bookstore Wednesday, February 25th, 7:00pm
The Fantastic Women of, well, Fantastic Women (Pt. 1)
August 1st is the publication date of Fantastic Women: 18 tales of the surreal and the sublime. The book has garnered praise from writers as diverse as Ursula K. Le Guin, Ben Marcus, Vendela Vida, and Gary Lutz among others, but when we sat down to figure out how to sell it, what terms to use, we realized it’s a little bit tough to define. What better way, we figured, than to ask the contributors what fantastic means to them. First up, Lucy Corin…
How would you define “fantastic” writing?
Writing that claims the life of the mind as inseparable from other aspects of experience. Recording it is just another way of writing the truth of a situation that you can’t always literally see, which is the point of writing fiction.
In your opinion, what is it about your piece in Fantastic Women that makes it fantastic?
I was literally fantasizing, found myself trying to create a character who might have this fantasy, and then thought, “that’s so dumb and contrived, why don’t I just follow the fantasy?”
Is the piece included in Fantastic Women representative of your writing? If yes, how did you come to write in this style?
Yes, it comes both from my favorite books (written by people like Flannery O’Connor, Nabokov, Ralph Ellison, Barthelme, Kafka, Beckett, Lydia Davis, Shirley Jackson, Cheever, DeLillo, Dostoyevsky, Melville . . .) and my experience of what’s interesting and exciting about being alive.
What was the inspiration/influence for this story?
I was living in a suburb filled with housing developments at the height of the housing bubble while our country was at war and I found it incredibly disturbing—the houses horrified me, and the sense of privileged liberal self-satisfaction in that neighborhood also horrified me.
Can you recommend some reading for those interested in reading more fantastic work?
Well, you see the table of contents, here, which is a pretty amazing group. I’d add Rebecca Brown and Anna Joy Springer to that list. Kevin Wilson if you want to let a contemporary guy in. And you can have a look at what Kate Bernheimer edits at The Fairy Tale Review and elsewhere, and you see my list of writers above.
Lucy Corin is the author of the short story collection The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) and the novel Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls (FC2). Her stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, Tin House, New Stories from the South, and a lot of other places. She’s been a fellow at Breadloaf and Sewanee, and a resident at Yaddo and the Radar Lab.