Short stories, big dreams
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
by: Ariel Gordon
Toronto writer Rebecca Rosenblum is a short-story specialist.
Which is similar to a poet’s poet insomuch as they both describe a writer who focuses on a particular genre and who is invested in the genre’s potentials and particularities.
Rosenblum will be reading from her second collection on Thursday at McNally Robinson. She will be joined by fellow Bibioasis author Ray Robertson.
1) As a writer (i.e. someone whose artistic practice is predicated on time spent alone) how do you approach performance? What do you get out of it?
I used to be terrified to read in public, and I worked really hard to get better. Now I’m relaxed enough to occasionally surprise myself with how the act of voicing something that really illuminates — or alters — the meaning. So I learn about my work when I read, and I also learn from people’s reactions to it. The fastest way to figure out where you’re being self-indulgent is to read it to an audience and feel for the moment when they go dead.
2) What do you want people to know about The Big Dream?
That it exists? Um, that it’s a book about people who work, who have jobs and lives and fall in love and get sick and eat sandwiches and care about each other, but sometimes not enough or not in the right ways.
3) Will this be your first time in Winnipeg? What have you heard?
I’ve taken two trips to Winnipeg and both were wonderful. One thing I heard about Winnipeg before I went there is that they are famous for corn mazes. So when I told my Winnipegger friend Stephanie that I would be coming, and she asked what I wanted to do, I told her, "Oh, the corn maze, of course." So, being the awesome friend she is, she looked up a corn maze and when I arrived she drove me way out of town. This was September, glorious weather, but it had rained that week, and it was so sloppy I had to take off my shoes and stockings and go barefoot through the maze. It was hilarious and disgusting. At the end, I was like, "Wow, so this is why Winnipeg is famous for corn mazes." And Stephanie, who had lived there all her life, was like, "Um, no, we’re not, actually." I can no longer remember who told me that, but they completely made it up! I still enjoyed the maze, though.
4) What are you reading right now? What are you writing right now?
I am reading Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist. It really is as good as everyone says it is, very meta and intellectually challenging, while still being completely human and relatable. And very, very funny. I am currently writing...this interview. I actually have been spending most of my free time on interviews or readings or presentations these days.
5) Why was it important to you to set The Big Dream’s stories in the workplace?
The confectionary idea that I see in a lot of fiction, that life happens after six and on weekends, is not true to me, nor to anyone who has ever faced unemployment in a bad economy, or overheard a colleague crying in the bathroom, or had a really excellent night at the holiday party. It all matters, it’s all real life — I wanted to show that.
Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer.