Inside Other Worlds: Women Writing of Place, Belonging, and Exile

Sherrie Flick

Quiet Glory, Crouching Shadows, Little Wish: An Interview with Sherrie Flick

Gardens, women, and music made wild; places and prospects made uncomfortable, but where one wants to linger; pie and tea and bourbon; cruel women who like men, but prefer solitude; dogs and cats and possums; moments, moods, couples, desire, and loneliness—these and more infuse energy and attitude into the 57 stories of “Whiskey, Etc.”

 

Margo Orlando Littell

The Quiet Power of Small-Town Stories: An Interview with Margo Orlando Littell

Margo Orlando Littell’s debut novel, “Each Vagabond by Name,” is an Appalachian tale of longing and loss, belonging and isolation, desperation and deliverance. Its characters confess the truth of life in the small coalmining town of Shelk, Pennsylvania, their simple, hardworking existence threatened by a band of thieves who have pitched camp in the nearby hills. Zaccariah Ramsy, Vietnam veteran and local bar owner, and Stella Vale, librarian and Ramsy’s once-and-eventual lover, establish the novel’s tone as townspeople who remain outside the spoken and unspoken rules of what it is to belong and not belong.

 

Anne Raeff

Landscape of Exile, Imagination, & Memory: An Interview with Anne Raeff

Winner of the 2016 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, Anne Raeff’s “The Jungle around Us” is a collection, honest and rare, its quietude and intimacy leading to unspoken, unforgotten places where insects roar, sirens sound, and “scratchy, old 78s” play. It is clear the author cares deeply about the characters in these stories. To read this collection is to be immersed in their lives, to become caught up in their thoughts and actions, their climates and countries, their memories and dreams.

"Rock Salt and Rabbit"

Though celebration in a time of chaos seems an unlikely, untruthful action, I want to pause and breathe and acknowledge a moment in my life as a writer. This week my story, "Rock Salt and Rabbit," one of eight finalists for the 2016 Nelligan Prize, was published in Colorado Review. The experience of working with Editor in Chief, Stephanie G'Schwind, and all the CR staff was amazing. To add to this honor, the story was the featured fiction on the CR website for their 2016 Fall/Winter Issue and in their November podcast. CR editor Lauren Matheny's beautiful reading of the story and CR podcast editor Kylan Rice's introductions and following interview allowed me to listen and learn even more about the characters and their world than I realized in the all the months and years of writing.

"Rock Salt and Rabbit" stands alone as a story, but is also a chapter in the novel, SYBELIA DRIVE; hence, the years of writing. It is Royal's story, set when the war in Vietnam is still going on, and when soldiers like Royal were returning home. While I have never been to war, through research and time spent writing and rewriting, I came to understand this character - his stamina, his dilemma, his honesty and generosity.

Through writing, we learn empathy. And I'd say through reading, too. I'd like to imagine that if Royal was more than a character, that if he were alive and breathing, he would be one of the thousands of veterans deploying this weekend to Standing Rock in North Dakota to "assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia" and "defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security."

In a time when the world spins in mad and maddening directions, I'm grateful for this moment. I encourage everyone to disengage from the madness for an hour each day, to take in something positive, like a story. Read in order to understand, then go out and make the world a better place.