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Smoking With C. Robin Madigan


Art by Marty D. Ison
Who is the "You" in the title?
The "You" in "The Mess You Made In Us" is Grey: Karen and Liza's mother.

Why does this story start and end with Jon?
The first line came in an hour's wait before something stressful. I jotted it down in a stairwell after getting some espresso. The sentence came, "Jon punches like a lawn mower blade lops dandelion puffs in hot summer thirst." Karen owns those words but they act as her narration of her and Jon's conversation. Something awful happened for gunshots to calm Liza. When I came to that awful thing, mainly the realization of a child, I raced back to Jon firing rounds off with his sister-in-law, a flinch with each misfire, and the line, which must be Liza's, relating a snap of the hammer to a child's head on cement—sounds I remember very well.

This piece is written in a distinct and unique style. What can you tell us about it?
Interruption of silence and family intrigues me. I didn't think I could pull off quite so many interruptions without distracting. When I got going "pulling it off" came easier the closer I got to failing—odd how that works. With sound so important I compressed and subtracted sentence level obstructions so there's no forgetting the clapped explosions. I like that aspect of writing, the compression and subtraction. Karen's voice needs that kind of limiting, as if she's getting a secret to you before everyone looks over to see her at your ear.

You’re pursuing an MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago. With whom do you study?
I study with Janet Desaulniers, and have worked with Carol Anshaw, and Rosellen Brown.

SLQ completed issue 18 at the close of summer and launched this issue, 19, on the threshold of winter. During the three months in between, the crops were harvested, the leaves fell, the rain returned, temperatures dropped, darkness lengthened. Death in increments. How does the turning of the seasons affect your "muse," your inspiration?
I get so anxious around this time of year, pre-winter. Mold and dust get a catarrh going because people don't change their air filters, and leaves get moldy in the street. I think I have a mythology about this time of the year because I get crazy, like I'm hunkering down for an eternal winter. I like it.

Read The Mess You Made In Us.

Issue Nineteen (December 15, 2007): The Off-Season by Jami Attenberg «» A Company Function by Grant Bailie «» Food Spectrum of the Rainbow Family by Melissa Bell «» Holiday Inn by Kim Chinquee «» Killer Pair by Trinie Dalton «» What Happened to My Purple Flip-Flops by Arwen Dewey «» Truth (ii) by Ben Ehrenreich «» How 9) Strange by Laird Hunt «» The Mess You Made in Us by C. Robin Madigan «» Red Brick by Darlin' Neal «» A Boy Not Born Yet by Tori Malcangio «» Taco Foot by Jack Pendarvis «» Boyandaquarter by Ben Stein «» Teec Nos Pos (Circle of Cottonwoods) by Beth Thomas «» Music from 1975 by Benjamin Weissman «» Interviews: Jami Attenberg «» Grant Bailie «» Melissa Bell «» Kim Chinquee «» Trinie Dalton «» Arwen Dewey «» Ben Ehrenreich «» Laird Hunt «» C. Robin Madigan «» Tori Malacangio «» Darlin' Neal «» Jack Pendarvis «» Jim Ruland «» Ben Stein «» Beth Thomas «» Benjamin Weissman «» Cover Art "Desire" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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