author of the novel, Carrying
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.
with Dawn Raffel
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.
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.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
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.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
A story is a compressed
narrative; for it to succeed, something must happen to the reader.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
I have in mind The Perfect
Reader - my imaginary companion, who scrutinizes every word, reference,
and attempted grace note, and gets it all.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
DR: Does it feel like this for
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
I am deeply grateful.
What are you working on now?
I've just completed a memoir
in vignettes, and I am working on a novel that?s kicking my butt.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
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.