I am delighted to have struck up a correspondence with Glen Pourciau, whose debut collection of short stories, Invite, I showcased last month. I am also grateful to his publisher, the University of Iowa Press, for sending me a review copy of the book, which I am currently enjoying. The Roving Editor’s aim is not to engage in literary criticism, but to highlight literary excellence. In other words, to let the writing speak for itself. Just occasionally, we may be fortunate enough to hear directly from the author, as in this characteristically concise interview with Glen.
How and why did you become a writer?
I decided to become a writer after I read The Trial by Kafka. That’s what did it. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever read.
What, for you, is the essence of a good short story?
I have to hear the voice of the narrator to start writing a story. I think there should be complete unity between the voice telling the story and the story that is being told. As I see it, detail should be limited to what’s right for the voice and relevant to the story. Tone is the most important aspect of the voice.
Which writers do you admire?
Kafka and Beckett. I greatly admire Kleist’s novella, Michael Kohlhaas. I’m conscious of an influence from Harold Pinter. Thomas Bernhard is also in the top handful of writers I admire.
What is your writing regime?
Weekdays, I’m at my job. I manage a public library. I write very regularly on the weekends, about four hours each day, and sometimes at night during the week. I tend to pick things up at night when I’m absorbed with something. This can have to do with getting something down while a scene is vivid or it can have to do with editing.
Can you tell us about your new book, Invite? How, for example, did you decide which stories to include?
The question of which stories to include in a collection is complex. This is what I did. I got a group of stories together that I thought of as the core. I asked myself what connected those stories. In my opinion, if there isn’t a connection between some of them, the ones that are not connected have to go. They hurt the team. A story collection, as I see it, should not necessarily be a group of the writer’s best stories but the group of a writer’s stories that go together best. After settling on the core, I looked at my other stories and picked ones that best shared a kinship with the core. Ideally, each story in the group should make the other stories stronger.
What about your future writing and publication plans?
My plans are to keep writing stories and submitting them to literary magazines. I'm working on a second collection that I think could be ready, if I can decide which stories to include.