We’ve got some inside sources over at BOMB magazine who revealed to us an apparent breach in security. Check out this pre-newsstand interview with Jim Shepard about his new short story collection You Think That’s Bad, where he touches on everything from epiphanies to catastrophes. A few highlights…
On the stories in the truth:
I read a huge amount of nonfiction, and when I pull books off shelves, I’m not thinking, Ah, what a great idea for a short story. That happens later, when I find that images or dilemmas within what I read continue to stay with me. Then I begin to interrogate why: why does this amazing narrative stick with me while that other one did not? And usually it’s because some dilemma of which I’ve caught a fleeting glimpse, in the middle of all of this information, resonates with my own life. …
On annelids and power:
I’m attracted to the worm’s-eye view, in terms of protagonists: I’m interested in the way we all, claiming powerlessness, can then use that to excuse our complicity.
On being American:
…Speaking of our increasing problem as a nation with confronting reality: one of our most cherished myths about ourselves is that we’re all about self-reliance, which allows us to justify our seeming disdain for communities (in what other country in the world would a potential leader be mocked for having been a community organizer?) and also allows us to jettison compassion as a national value. I say “seeming disdain” because I think most Americans value the notion of community. Nearly all of us register the essential heartlessness of unregulated capitalism, and yet that’s been enshrined as sacrosanct: a fundamental aspect of our version of self-reliance. That “every man for himself” ethos of which we’re so proud leaves a lot of people behind, and I’m continually interested in the tension involved in the way those people whipsaw between blaming themselves for having been unable to keep up and understanding that they never had a chance in the first place.
Read the whole interview here.