Dawn Raffel is author of the novel, Carrying the Body, and In the Year on Long Division, a short story collection. She is now Editor at Large, Books at Readers Digest, and the editor of The Literarian, the magazine for the Center for Fiction in New York. She lives outside New York City with her husband and sons.

Short Story Collections

Further Adventures in the Restless Universe
(Dzanc Books, 2010)

reviewed by Melissa lee-Houghton

In the Year of Long Division (1995)

Interview with Dawn Raffel

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Dawn Raffel: The stories were written and revised over a period of eight years. I quit a lucrative full-time job and went part-time so I could finish.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

DR: I didn't start with the idea of writing a collection, but after I had completed three or four stories, I saw they all had the underpinning of dealing with loss (well, thank you, Dr. Freud: I was dealing with the death of my father, and later of my mother.) So I decided to put together a book.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

DR: As soon as I knew I was working on a collection, I wrote each story with the larger composition in mind. When I would finish a story, I'd stop to consider what else was needed for the whole composition, and I frequently reordered the pieces. The relationship between the stories is as important as the stories themselves.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

DR: A story is a compressed narrative; for it to succeed, something must happen to the reader.

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

DR:  I have in mind The Perfect Reader - my imaginary companion, who scrutinizes every word, reference, and attempted grace note, and gets it all.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

DR: Does it feel like this for you too?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

DR: I am deeply grateful.

TSR: What are you working on now?

DR:  I've just completed a memoir in vignettes, and I am working on a novel that?s kicking my butt.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

DR:  18 Stories by Heinrich Boll, The Collected Short Stories of Jean Rhys, The Collected Fictions of Gordon Lish. Yes, yes, I read new work too, and lots of it! You just caught me in a moment of rediscovery.
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>