11.12.06: Asali Solomon, Lise Haines, Carolyn Turgeon
Sunday, November 12, featured three readers and another well-attended night in KGB's highly-regarded Fiction Reading Series. First up was Carolyn Turgeon, reading for William J. Cobb , who, as a new father, was unable to be there, from his book "Good night, Texas". She was followed by Asali Solomon who brought along a crew of recent graduates from the Iowa Fiction Program. Asali read from her recent collection "Get Down", choosing from it "The Star of the Story", in which Eduardo, a fat boy, shares his angst with a painful, true humor that seemed to reach out and touch the listeners. After a short break, Lise Haines took the mic, reading from her novel "Small Acts of Sex and Electricity". We spoke with Lise after the reading about her novel, superstitions, shooting up speed, and teaching at Harvard, among other things.
Interview With Lise Haines
KGB: Tonight you read from Small Acts of Sex and Electricity, your second novel, and you've published short stories and poems - truly a cross-genre body of work. What are you working on now?
LH: My new work is a departure for me; it's quite different from anything I've done before. I'm too superstitious to talk about it yet!
KGB: How do you work? Do you draw on your life at all?
LH: Not really. I work "organically," which is to say, I don't have an outline or a plot in mind when I start out. I like the process of discovery. I write to uncover who the characters are and why they do what they do. I'm happiest when my work entertains me, and I hope others find it entertaining. I like dark humor. That said, in this book, the grandmother character has some traits not unlike my mother. And the descriptions of characters shooting up speed, well, I knew three people when I was in college who shot up speed, and one of them went blind, one lost all her teeth and one lost a kidney. So occasionally some fact-based things will work their way in, but mostly I am concerned with making sure that the feeling is true.
KGB: Where have you studied writing? Do you teach writing?
LH: I studied at Syracuse a long time ago, and I got my MFA at Bennington in 2002. I teach now at Harvard, where I am Visiting Briggs-Copeland Lecturer this year. I love it! I love teaching the undergraduates - I teach fiction writing - and there is such dignity associated with this position. For instance, they provide child care when I need to attend a function in the evening. Everything about it is a joy, and I don't have to say that, I'm only there for one year!
--Interview by Anne Pelletier