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Smoking With Ron Currie, Jr.

Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette
""Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette"
by Vincent Van Gogh
This piece strikes me as remarkable for a number of reasons, but especially for its neutral authorial stance. Is that something you aimed for in this piece? And how is such "neutrality" achieved in writing? Is it a Zen thing?
When I'm writing, I keep a pair of tweezers at hand, and every time I have the urge to insert even a tiny bit of myself into the narrative, I stick the tweezers up one nostril and rip out half a dozen or so nose hairs. By the time my eyes stop watering the urge has passed, and I can move on with the story. But yeah, I think I know what you mean, and in this case the subject demanded a neutral tone. It's almost reportage, the journalistic ideal that used to dominate the news before 'the news' became little more than human interest pieces and dogmatic screaming matches moderated by such pillars of journalistic intergrity as Limbaugh and O'Reilly. With 'The Captain' I was aware, too, that I was dealing with real people, and I think that made me approach the thing more carefully.

From the Captain to Maria to Japan. Those ending travels come most unexpectedly—and are usually prone to failure in a story. But you work it out, dawg. Did you always know you'd end the piece with that prayer? Did you struggle with how to get there?
Honestly, I'm not sure that it does succeed 100%, but it was the way the story wanted to be written, so who am I to argue? I don't remember for sure whether I knew all along how the piece would end, but when I got there it seemed the only logical, fitting way to go. It was an effort to encapsulate the enormity of what these people have been through, and as such is probably doomed to fail, ultimately. But what I find especially fascinating is how, sort of counter-intuitively, people who have opposed one another with the highest of stakes—life and death—can achieve mutual respect, forgiveness, sometimes even a sort of kinship. It's as though the bonds we hear so much about among men fighting together can extend, with time, to the men they fight against. And maybe that's really what the prayer is about. At the moment of his death the Captain is forgiven; not by his own people, who are more than comfortable with keeping him a scapegoat in perpetuity, but by his enemy

You've recently sold your novel-in-stories "God is Dead," and consequently have been able to quit your day-job. Is there something you miss about your old job?
Free food. Working in restaurants is shit, but there's always something to eat.

Beer or wine?
Murphy's Irish Stout. On draught, preferably. Or a nice, crisp Zim.

Time for the first (and perhaps only) SLQ deserted island questionnaire. One CD. One novel. One flash piece. One movie. One very much alive famous person. One very much alive writer. One SLQ editor with the initials R.B.. Go!
God, I hate these, so I'll just get it over with. Off the top of my head: Hail to the Thief, Radiohead. War and Peace, because it's massive enough that by the time you reach the end you've forgotten the beginning, which makes it ideal desert island reading. Hemingway's infamous six-word flash: 'For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.' The movie's a tie, currently, between A River Runs Through It and E.T. The writer has to be alive? I'd say Lorrie Moore, but she'd be way too smart and I'd go around the island feeling stupid all the time, which come to think of it really wouldn't be all that different from my non-desert-island life, so okay I'll say Lorrie Moore.

Read The Captain.
Issue Thirteen (June 15, 2006): A Foreign Woman by Roberta Allen «» Fetichismo by Christopher Battle «» How the Broken Lead the Blind Until They Both Become Something Else Entirely by Matt Bell «» See Odi Naked by Lisa K. Buchanan «» Memory of Sky by Jai Clare «» The Captain by Ron Currie, Jr. «» Bingham by Steve Cushman «» The Table by David Erlewine «» Daffodil by Kathy Fish «» Fishing by Mike Hagemann «» Real Estate by Jennifer A. Howard «» Emily Avenue by Jeff Landon «» Tough Act by Steven J. McDermott «» Cheering by Srdan Papic «» Something Blew by Ellen Parker «» Euclid's Elements by Mary Lynn Reed «» Miracle by Chad Simpson «» Her Lips by Claudia Smith «» Man and Dog by Girija Tropp «» Randomization by Joseph Young «» Interviews: Roberta Allen «» Matt Bell «» Lisa K. Buchanan «» Jai Clare «» Ron Currie, Jr. «» Steve Cushman «» Katrina Denza «» David Erlewine «» Kathy Fish «» Mike Hagemann «» Jennifer A. Howard «» Jeff Landon «» Steven J. McDermott «» Srdan Papic «» Ellen Parker «» Mary Lynn Reed «» Chad Simpson «» Claudia Smith «» Girija Tropp «» Joseph Young «» Cover Art "Despair" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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