SmokeLong Quarterly
top menu
Smoking With Damian Dressick
by Davin Malasarn

cigarette by SuperFantastic
cigarette by SuperFantastic
via Creative Commons license
This is a haunting piece. How does it relate to your other writing?

Thanks for the word "haunting." It's a very nice thing to say. Short shorts are in some ways their own country. You aren't spending a lot of time with the reader, so the onus shifts from keeping an audience to trying very quickly to provide something they can take with them, something that dislocates, makes them feel like they're enmeshed in a place of substance. I'm also a sucker for stories that don't shy away from sensational moments and those that conspicuously attempt to place their characters within capital "H" history.

Suburbia seems to play a prominent role in determining how the characters in this story behave. What does suburban life imply to you?

I grew up in the suburbs, but these suburbs are not my suburbs. I grew up in the 80s outside a dying steel town, a time and place in which the bloom was pretty well off the suburban rose; it was mall culture and irony. I imagine these people somewhere like Long Island with a father who moved his family out there because he was authentically (if somewhat naively) questing after a better life. A writer who's been a big influence on me is Richard Yates and I think there's a phrase on one of his book jackets describing the period about which he's writing as when "the American dream, finally beginning to come true, starts to ring a little hollow." For the father in the story, all the promise of various types of security—political, economic, familial—are evaporating at the same time.

At my count this story is only 158 words. Did you play around with different length versions of this before arriving at something so short?

I've probably only written three or four short shorts by urgently sitting down with an idea in my head and having the story come out about as fast as I could type and then polishing it. This was one of those stories. I knew exactly the scope of what I wanted to relate: a young person witnessing one adult throwing a potentially high-stakes temper tantrum over a very big issue and another adult succeeding in dealing with it (perhaps only temporarily) in a matter-of-fact way.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I have a collection of short fiction called Fables of the Deconstruction coming out this spring from Spire Press. I've been using a lot of time trying to tweak, club, argue and pare its stories into shapes that I hope people will take pleasure in reading. I'd also like to thank America Martin for generously creating the artwork to go with the story.

Read Life Lesson.

Issue Thirty (December 22, 2010): Eulogy for Maria Mamani, Fire-eater by Ed Bull «» Language Barrier by Thomas Cooper «» A Goblet Falls by Barbara Diehl «» Life Lesson by Damian Dressick «» Yams by Gary Fincke «» How We Handle Our Midnights by Charles Hale «» The Corn by Kathleen Hale «» Amelia by Aubrey Hirsch «» Inside by Ashley Inguanta «» About Things That Are Lost and the Places That Things Get Lost Andrea Kneeland «» The Good Woman by Sara Levine «» Buckaroo by Ravi Mangla «» Her New Friend Jesus by Michael Meyers «» Conjugation by Jen Michalski «» Dairy Queen by Jennifer Pashley «» What Do You Do? by Dariel Suarez «» Up, Up and Away by Art Taylor «» Three Jokes by M. Thompson «» Between Budapest and Dying by Dean Marshall Tuck «» Crash-o-rama! by Chris Wiewiora «» Thirty-Word Story Contest Winners «» Interviews: Ed Bull «» Thomas Cooper «» Barbara Diehl «» Damian Dressick «» Gary Fincke «» Charles Hale «» Kathleen Hale «» Aubrey Hirsch «» Ashley Inguanta «» Andrea Kneeland «» Sara Levine «» Ravi Mangla «» Michael Meyers «» Jen Michalski «» Jennifer Pashley «» Dariel Suarez «» Art Taylor «» M. Thompson «» Dean Tuck «» Chris Wiewiora «» Cover Art "Holiday Wishes" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editors
Interested in subscribing to SmokeLong's weekly newsletter? Click here. An email should be created. Send it as is, and you'll be subscribed. If the link does not work for you, send an email to with Subscribe slq-info in the body of the email (no subject is necessary). You'll receive updates detailing the release of new issues, new reading periods, contests, etc. We do not make our mail list available to anyone else.

bottom menu