All posts tagged: Interviews

Ask a Local with Anika Fajardo: Minneapolis, Minnesota

With ANIKA FAJARDO

MN

Name: Anika Fajardo

Current city or town: Minneapolis, Minnesota

  1. The most striking physical features of this city/town are . . .

Minneapolis is known as the “city of lakes” because of the five large bodies of water nestled in among the city blocks of houses and small businesses. The lakes give the city a vacation feel during the summer. You can go to the beach, bike and walk, and eat ice cream.

Ask a Local with Anika Fajardo: Minneapolis, Minnesota
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How Much History Can Hurt: An Interview with Emma Copley Eisenberg

JULIA PIKE interviews EMMA COPLEY EISENBERG

The Third Rainbow Girl is not an easy book to categorize; nor is it always an easy book to read, but it’s certainly worthy of the latter. The book tells the story of a crime committed in Pocahontas County West Virginia in 1980, which was known as the Rainbow Murders. Two women, Vicky Durian and Nancy Santomero, were found dead from gunshot wounds in a remote corner of the county. The girls, along with their friend, Elizabeth Johndrow, had hitchhiked toward Pocahontas County to attend the Rainbow Gathering, an annual, weeklong meeting that celebrates peace and harmony. Johndrow decided not to go at the last minute. Because of where the bodies were found, as well as narratives describing the men of the town as violent and unfriendly to outsiders, many suspected that the crimes had been committed by a local. Nine men from the county were embroiled in the case, and one, Jacob Beard, was eventually charged and imprisoned for the murder, despite the 1984 confession of serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin.

Years later, Emma Copley Eisenberg moved to Pocahontas County to work for AmeriCorps VISTA as a volunteer at a nonprofit designed to empower girls. She spent a year working with girls during the day and drinking and playing bluegrass with local men at night. “I felt ruined by my time in Pocahontas County—no place would ever be so good,” Eisenberg writes. But like every story told in the book, this one is not so simple. “I felt harmed,” Eisenberg writes, “and also that I had harmed others with my weakness and my silence and my actions, and I didn’t know how to make those two feelings stay together. Every time I grasped one of them, the other seemed to fade away.” It was at a writing group in Pocahontas County that Eisenberg first heard the story of the Rainbow Murders, and that her story and the story of the crimes first became intertwined. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg unpacks the complex history of the region, and how this history affected the treatment of the crimes and the resulting communal trauma.

The Common’s former Wood Fellow Julia Pike spoke by phone with Eisenberg about memory, positionality, reading and writing about Appalachia, and how we love a place through writing.



TC
: I’d love to start by talking about your short story “Forty-Four Thousand Pounds,” which was published in The Common’s Issue 15. The story has multiple parts—in one, the protagonist, Kendra, is in her father’s truck as he drives across the country, in another, years later, Kendra tells her friend/ girlfriend Carla that she’s leaving their hometown, and in yet another, furthest in the future, Kendra bikes around Philadelphia. I’m interested in the way the story handles time and memory, and curious about why you chose to tell it in this particular way.

How Much History Can Hurt: An Interview with Emma Copley Eisenberg
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Dream Logic: An Interview with Joseph O’Neill

JENNIFER ACKER interviews JOSEPH O’NEILL

Joseph O Neill

Joseph O’Neill is an Irish and Turkish writer who grew up in the Netherlands, practiced law in England, and now lives in New York City while teaching at Bard College. His novel Netherland won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award and was praised by President Obama. O’Neill’s novel The Dog was nominated for the 2014 Booker Prize. He is known for  sentences that are both precise and extravagant, that build on each other to undulating and dazzling effect. His work is founded on a bedrock sense of humor, and a healthy sense of the absurd is never far away. And yet his novels and stories are never merely funny; they are also rich excavations of character and observations of modern life. This keen eye, alongside evident empathy and wit are on display in his first collection of short stories, Good Trouble, which was released in 2019 and has been called “an essential book, full of unexpected bursts of meaning and beauty.” This conversation is adapted from O’Neill’s visit to Amherst College this winter.

Dream Logic: An Interview with Joseph O’Neill
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Ask a Local: Glenn Diaz, Manila, The Philippines

With GLENN DIAZ

Manila streets

Plaza Lacson in Sta Cruz, Manila. Photo by Glenn Diaz

Name: Glenn Diaz

Current city or town: Manila, The Philippines

How long have you lived here: 30 years

Three words to describe the climate: Hot, humid, often-dystopic

Best time of year to visit? Probably beginning October, when the amihan (trade winds) arrives, to March just before the onset of summer.

Ask a Local: Glenn Diaz, Manila, The Philippines
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“I Hope I’m Not a Moth”: Lindsay Wong on Coming of Age Through Memoir

MARNI BERGER interviews LINDSAY WONG

wong headshot

Lindsay Wong’s debut memoir The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018) was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, selected for the 2019 edition of Canada Reads (where it was defended by fashion personality Joe Zee), longlisted for the Leacock Medal for humor, and awarded the Hubert Evans Nonfiction Prize. Wong holds a BFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and an MFA in literary nonfiction from Columbia University. Her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in Apogee Journal, No Tokens, Ricepaper, and The Fiddlehead, and she has earned residencies from The Studios of Key West, Caldera Arts, and the Historic Joy Kogawa House, to name a few.

In this interview, long-time friends Marni Berger and Lindsay Wong span Portland, Maine and Vancouver, British Columbia via the beauty of the internet (as they have for the better part of a decade). They cover topics from sleeping on a mattress beside your grandmother during Hurricane Sandy to visiting your mother’s haunted playground in Hong Kong; and from avoiding self-promotion on social media to coming of age while writing a memoir.

 

“I Hope I’m Not a Moth”: Lindsay Wong on Coming of Age Through Memoir
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Resisting the Path of Least Resistance: An Interview with Jennifer Egan

On the Friday of LitFest, Amherst College’s annual literary festival, The Common Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker sat down with Jennifer Egan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, among other accolades, to talk about crime, place, and “timely” writing. This is an edited version of that live interview from March 1, 2019. 

jennifer egan and jennifer acker in conversation

Resisting the Path of Least Resistance: An Interview with Jennifer Egan
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Details, Description, and Difference: 11 Questions with Haifa’ Abul-Nadi

The Common’s summer interns Whitney Bruno, Avery Farmer, and Isabel Meyers corresponded via email with Haifa’ Abul-Nadi, Issue 15 contributor, about Arabic and English authors, the use of details in evoking emotion, and the power of writing in translation. Abul-Nadi’s short story, “Propositions,” was featured in The Common’s Issue 15 portfolio, ‘Arabic Stories from Jordan.’

Haifa Abul-Nadi

TC Interns: What writers and works are you most excited about at the moment?

Haifa’ Abul-Nadi: I am currently reading Eduardo Galeano’s “Voices of Time: A Life in Stories.”

Details, Description, and Difference: 11 Questions with Haifa’ Abul-Nadi
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Multiple Geographies: an Interview with Helen Benedict

MELODY NIXON interviews HELEN BENEDICT

Helen Benedict

Helen Benedict is the author of seven novels and five works of nonfiction. A professor of journalism at Columbia University, Benedict spends her time between New York City and upstate New York, where her latest novel, Wolf Season, is set—though the characters’ lives encompass Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the US. Wolf Seasonwas selected as a 2018 Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association.

As the seasons changed from fall to winter, Melody Nixon spoke with Benedict about her newest book, the “effects of war on the human heart,” Benedict’s path to social justice, and the way forward with the crisis of tolerance.

Multiple Geographies: an Interview with Helen Benedict
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Ask a Local: Mara Pastor, Ponce, Puerto Rico

 

Ponce Carnaval

Answers appear first in Spanish, and next in English translation.

Your name: Mara Pastor

Current city or town: Ponce, Puerto Rico

How long have you lived here: Desde enero del 2016. / Since January 2016.

Three words to describe the climate: Caluroso. Húmedo. Mucho. / Hot. Humid. Very.

Ask a Local: Mara Pastor, Ponce, Puerto Rico
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Intuitive Nonfiction: An Interview with Courtney Kersten

THAÏS MILLER INTERVIEWS COURTNEY KERSTEN

Courtney Kersten Headshot

Courtney Kersten’s work been featured in Brevity, The Normal School, River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. In 2018, the University of Wisconsin Press published her debut memoir, Daughter in Retrograde.

Thaïs Miller met with Kersten on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where they are both pursuing PhDs in Literature with a Creative/Critical Writing Concentration. Astrology plays a large role in Kersten’s memoir, so they decided to conduct the interview after a tarot card reading.

Intuitive Nonfiction: An Interview with Courtney Kersten
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