Here’s a brief and lovely interview with Jim Shepard about his new story, Boy’s Town, which appears this week in the New Yorker. Here’s a sampling:
“Boys Town” is about a man who believes that nothing he’s done in his life has ever been good enough. When did you first start thinking about your protagonist?
I’ve written about those sorts of protagonists all of my life. It seems to me that that kind of radical disenchantment with one’s self—wedded, at the same time, to an enormous capacity for self-deception, as well—has been an ongoing subject of mine. I’ve always been interested, both in other writers’ work and my own, in protagonists who leave the reader to sort through what they’ve figured out, what they’ve been unable to figure out, and what they refuse to try to figure out about themselves.
How often is your fiction inspired by real events? When you come across a news story or an account of a historical incident, do you immediately know that it might form the germ of a story?
Lately, my fiction has often been inspired by real events, either from history or science or the news. Initially I read just to please myself: the happy odd person left alone with his peculiar subjects. But every so often a particular human dilemma within a situation sticks with me, and that emotional resonance that I feel in such cases suggests to me that I might want to try to inhabit the situation a little more fully, in terms of my own empathetic imagination.
Read the rest here. And be sure to pick up a copy of The New Yorker this week and read Jim’s story.
How exciting! Jim’s story “Boy’s Town” appears in the November 8th issue of the New Yorker. Click here for a preview. A subscription is required to read the whole thing, and if you aren’t subscribed to The New Yorker, do it. This minute. Who wouldn’t love a cartoon calendar for 2011?
The New Yorker plays a tremendous role in promoting serious literary fiction at a time when many other magazines (yea, I mean you,) have ceased to regularly publish fiction. Plus, a subscription to the New Yorker gives you the amazing ability to access previous issues. This means you can go back decades and read Salinger short stories in the New Yorker.
Jim Shepard reads a selection from his new story “Boys Town” at the New York State Summer Writers Institute, Skidmore College, June 29th, 2010. It’s a wonderful, short little clip. “Here’s the story of my life. Whatever I did wasn’t good enough, anything I figured out, I figured out too late. And whenever I tried to help I made things worse….”
My mother liked to remind me that at the age of four I left a garden party one rainy afternoon with my toothbrush in my fist, fully intending a life of exploration, only to be returned later that afternoon by the postman. Her version of the story emphasized the boundaries that her daughter refused to accept. Mine was about the emancipation I felt when I closed the gate latch behind me and left everyone in my wake, and the world came to meet me like a wave.
For those of you unfamiliar with this publication, here’s a little more about it, taken from the website.
In 1997, Francis Ford Coppola launched Zoetrope: All-Story, a quarterly magazine devoted to the best new short fiction and one-act plays. It has received every major story award, including the National Magazine Award for Fiction, while publishing today’s most promising and significant writers…Along with new stories, each edition of the magazine presents a Classic Reprint—a previously published short story that inspired a great film—to illustrate the narrative relationship between the art forms…Zoetrope: All-Story is also an art magazine, as the editors invite a different contemporary artist to illustrate and design each issue.
If you’re interesting in purchasing the summer issue, click here. Better yet, become a subscriber by clicking here. The future of American literary fiction depends in no small part to high quality literary journals, so please find journals you like and become a subscriber!
The release date is September 25, 2007. Making the book a Libra. You can, and should, pre-order it here.