Book: You Won't Remember This by Kate Blackwellcategories: Book, Southern Fiction, Literary Fiction, Marriage, Contemporary Women, Secrets, Relationships, Weddings, Affairs, Humor, Short Stories
Kate Blackwellabout this book: These stories are about the fears, longings, sorrows, and courage of ordinary people. Each story shines a light on a single figure and works to make that person's dilemma visible, then understandable, and finally, universal. A number of the stories are about marriage and its many mysteries. Death, love, and birth are also here, adults coping with loss, children coping with adults. All the stories reflect what I find endlessly fascinating: the miraculous in the seemingly unremarkable. This is what I hope readers find as well.
• Write about the benefits your book offers to its readers?
Short fiction is more than just a short read versus a long one; it is the literary voice of the solitary man, woman, or child, a person without importance or singularity, clerks, adjuncts, taxi drivers, people who are overlooked or judged unimportant in real life. Stories allow us entry to their inner feelings and secret desires; what we find is not what we expect. I believe this fictional experience develops empathy with our fellows on the planet, the willingness to probe under the surface, to inquire about conditions and consequences, to understand rather than judge.
• What inspired you to write this book?
Other writers' stories: the amazing short fiction of Katherine Anne Porter, Katherine Mansfield, William Trevor, John Cheever, Alice Munro—I could go on and on naming authors who inspired me to write. I never read a well written story without the urge to pick up the pen myself. After I start a story, I become enmeshed with the character and her situation, but the initial inspiration for all my writing is reading.
• Who are the primary readers of your book?
Anybody who likes literary fiction, who considers reading to be a life-long conversation with authors, and who likes surprises. My stories don't have a lot of action or neatly tied up endings. Readers have told me they liked my stories because they aren't finished with the characters after the story ends.
• How long did it take to write it?
The shortest time for writing any single story was six months; most were written over several years, though much of that time the story spent productively lying fallow. It was twenty years before I had enough stories good enough that I wanted to publish them in a book.
• How did you come up with the title?
I first thought I would call the book The Secret Life of Peonies, the title of one of the stories, until I realized there were at least a dozen books out there titled "the secret life" of everything from bees to dentists. For a while I was at a loss. Then a reader for the publisher suggested You Won't Remember This, also the title of one of the stories. It seemed right. Memory plays a part in all the stories, especially those about loss and those where the past surfaces to make sense of the present. The possibility that a reviewer might snarl "Right you are!" seemed worth the risk.
• Why did you choose this cover?
The publisher of Bacon Press suggested the images of the empty chair and the butterfly, both of which appear in the title story. Right away I loved the idea. For me they suggest both loss and desire, the major themes of the stories. The cover designer came up with the background of triangles of muted colors, which I also loved. The different colors indicate to me the gathering of unlinked stories, together yet separate.
• What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The time it took me to write each story. Sometimes I think I'm the slowest writer in the world. How do the others do it more quickly? Flannery O'Connor once said that "you write what you can." I would add to that, "you write the way you can."
• Did you do research for your book?
I don't remember doing any, other than looking up words to find a new way of saying something.
• Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The most important thing I learned from writing these stories was that I didn't have to solve the characters' problems, only present them as precisely as possible.
• What do you want to say to your readers?
I would like to say welcome. I hope you enjoy your stay.
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Video: You Won't Remember This by Kate Blackwell
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