credit: Marco Soave
Ken Kalfus is
the author of two novels, The
Commissariat of Enlightenment
Disorder Peculiar to the Country,
which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award. He's also
published two collections of stories, Thirst
and Other Russian Fantasies,
a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.
(Madras Press, 2010)
by Alex Thornber
PU-239 and Other Russian Fantasies
with Ken Kalfus
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Ken Kalfus: I would guess one, two
or three months each, plus revision time, over a period of years,
while taking breaks from my novels.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
I like to think everything will get published at some point, and I like
to think I will keep writing stories and collecting them from time to
time. I see these three stories, collected in chapbook form, as part of
a larger collection down the road.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
KK: These are my three most
recent short stories. They were published in Harper's Magazine and
Agni. Their order was determined by considerations of mood, voice and
does the word "story"
mean to you?
I'm sorry, I don't
understand the question's significance.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
In the course of
learning how to write, an author creates in his mind the idea of the
perfect reader, the one who is most open to his interpretation of the
narrative, who is most receptive to his images, who most gets his
allusions and jokes, building her bit by bit. The invention of this
reader is never completed.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
Are you that reader?
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
What are you working on now?
KK: A novel.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?