Laura McCullough

The Smashing House (ELJ Publications, 2013)

What are some of your favorite chapbooks? 

Little Oceans by Tony Hoagland from Hollyridge Press. It’s a poetry chapbook, and I do have a few poetry or prose poem chapbooks, but this one you are speaking to me about is a fiction chap.

What’s your chapbook about? How is it similar to or different from your earlier work?

The Smashing House is a short fiction chapbook. Most of my published work and books are poetry.

What advice would you offer to an aspiring chapbook author?

The chapbook as a form has a venerable history. They were out of fashion, however, in the US for a long time, but now seem to be seeing a resurgence. They are a good way to build audience, but also a great way to work with a smaller gesture whether in poetry or prose, to work on a smaller palette.

Have you ever written a fan letter to a writer? What did you/might you say?

I write fan letters in my head all the time, and anytime I write something that might be called a review, it’s really a fan letter in the sense that I am taking someone seriously and really trying to understand their work. There is a great tradition of writers writing to other writers. It’s a beautiful thing.

What do you think the connection is between image and language, and how might this connection be seen in your writing?

The title of this chapbook is an image; The Smashing House evokes the literal broken homes of the east coast after Hurricane Sandy, but it also is metaphoric in the sense of how world views are shattered after catalytic events, and those are not always societal or communal; they are also personal. In the title story, the boy who finds a room filled with glass he can smash is processing family dysfunction and anger. In the story “Boats in Strange Places,” a train conductor actually sees many boats that have been lifted from the water during the storm and deposited near the tracks, but it is also metaphoric of psychic and personal dislocation. Many of the stories in the chapbook operate with image and metaphor at the core.

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Laura McCullough’s most recent books are Rigger Death & Hoist Another, poems (Black Lawrence Press, 2013), Ripple & Snap, micro-fiction/prose-poems about the aftermath of a public suicide (ELJ Publications, 2013), The Smashing House, a short fiction chapbook (ELJ Publications, 2013), and her edited anthology, The Room & the World: Essays on the Poetry of Stephen Dunn (Syracuse University Press, 2013). Her other books are Panic (winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award, Alice James Books, and a BOTYA finalist), Speech Acts (Black Lawrence Press), and What Men Want (XOXOX Press). Her first book of poetry, The Dancing Bear, was published by the now defunct Open Book Press. Her second edited anthology, A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race is forthcoming in late 2014 from University of Georgia Press. Her essays, criticism, poems, creative non-fiction, and short fiction have appeared in Diode, Plume, Drunken Boat, The Georgia Review, New South, Guernica, The American Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, Pank, The Good Men Project, The Writer’s Chronicle, Gulf Coast, Pedestal, Painted Bride Quarterly, and others. She was the founding editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations and currently acts as an editor-at-large.

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www.lauramccullough.org/index.html

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“The Happiness of Water”

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