:: Buzzwords

Five for: Caleb J Ross

By Alan Kelly.


1) Who would win a fight between Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut? And who would you bet on?
A fight of brawn? Hemingway, definitely. A fight of wit? Vonnegut. A fight for the sake of the spectators? I think Vonnegut would put on a much better show. He wouldn’t mind being pummeled, I’d guess. And very few shows can be made worse with some sadistic violence.

2) Would you agree that being in prison is similar to writing: the shorts are the stints and the novel a long, brutal stretch where a person is frequently either raped in the ass, has hot cocoa poured on their balls, strung up or strung out. Or am I being a tad melodramatic?
I’ve never been in prison, so I can’t comment on the comparison with much authority. But I have had all sorts of liquids on my balls, so, let’s go with that metaphor. Short stories are the room-temp tequila shots: they may go down quicker, but often they stick around and keep you on the couch longer. The power is in the potency. Novels are like a chill evening spent nursing pints with a friend: it takes much more to keep the conversation going, but in the morning you’ll likely have more to show for yourself. Nice use of the term “brutal stretch” in regards to prison rape, by the way. Clever.

3) Charactered Pieces is your first short story collection and you’ve been published extensively in both print and online. Who are some of your favourite writers, online and in print?
I’m always reading different authors, so I love a lot of ’em, but the ones that consistently deliver and whose new books or stories I anxiously anticipate would be David Benioff, Adam Johnson, Will Christopher Baer, and I still hold on for Chuck Palahniuk, though I think him taking more time on his books would serve everyone better. And Brian Evenson. Every chance I get I talk about this guy. He’s an inspiration and a genius.


4) Are you still a part of your writer’s club?
Write Club? Yep. Every year, around November, we all start new projects (or sometimes revive older projects) in hopes of crafting something brilliant. Each session lasts for the duration of the following year. So far, we’ve see some amazing stuff. Those guys are my second family. They know when I need to be “brutally stretched,” and just as important, they know when I deserve some credit.

5) What famous (or infamous) short story would you like to have lived in?
Jorge Louis Borges‘ ‘The Library of Babel’ or ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ would be good ones. But for the sake of social curiosity, I’ll say Shirley Jackson‘s ‘The Lottery.’ There’s nothing more frightening than an eager public with no clue as to what they are fighting for.

Charactered Pieces by Caleb J Ross is out November 16 from Outsider Writers Press.

First posted: Wednesday, October 21st, 2009.

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