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Matty Stanfield


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Website: Matty's Bit of Space

Matty Stanfield lives in San Francisco. He has just entered his forties and is none too happy about it. Aside from his blog ramblings, this is his first foray into publishing his writings.

Short Story Collections

Donut Holes:
Sticky Pieces of Fictionalized Reality
CreateSpace, 2009

Reviewed by Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau

 Interview with Matty Stanfield

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

Matty Stanfield: I'm really not sure. I am always writing in one way or another: blogging, journals, personal stories. I started thinking about pulling some of my stories together regarding my battle with PTSD and the abuse I suffered as a child in 2003. But, I don't think I seriously approached the project until about two years ago. It was a struggle for me as the flashbacks I suffer seem to cause me a range of problems -- the most annoying of which is that I often have trouble with reading and writing. Even now, after I have published this collection, I discovered a couple of "type-o's" which is quite frustrating but I am looking at it as a part of the process.

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

MS: I started off with my focus on the abuse I survived as a small child and the challenges as an adult working through PSTD. However, I get through things by finding the humor in them. The collection gradually took on the shape of a humorous look at my life up to now. So the collection touches on a wide range of experiences in my life in Texas, Boston, New York and San Francisco. I pulled several stories dealing with some serious issues and replaced them with comic reflections on experiences and interactions as a teenager and an adult male. The collection most definitely has a gay slant view of things, but I found that this, too, took a secondary place in the stories. I think readers can relate to the experiences of challenges one faces when growing up and struggling with all the obstacles life places in our way. At least this is my hope.

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

MS: I touched on that in the second question. The order of the stories is a bit experimental. I started off with about 120 stories, but cut it down to 15 for the collection. I always had the idea for the title of the collection and rather liked the idea that the stories would be arranged in a random way -- similar in concept to the way I used to toss assorted donut holes into a bag for the customers at the donut shop when I was a kid.
    I actually wrote down the titles of my 15 stories on small pieces of paper, scrambled those pieces, closed my eyes and pulled each title. This is how I put the stories in order. I had interest from two established publishers, but I have no agent and they wanted to change the order of the stories to chronological with dates. I had no interest in doing that. I do not think that sort of organization would serve the collection well. A reader can open the book at any point and just start reading.
    A work without any order -- much like our lives. Or, at least like my life. But, there is meaning and laughs to be had.

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

MS:  Odd, but when I hear the word "story" I immediately think of tall buildings. I suppose, to me, a story is an entertaining communication via a specific perspective of and about an event.

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

MS:  Not really. I write for myself. I suppose that is why I have never pursued publishers too much and the idea of self-publishing was so exciting to me. Vain, perhaps but quite exciting. I do, however, always hope to entertain and touch a reader when I write. Though, I am not one for the "goosebump moment" or "easy resolution" --- I hope my work touches the mind in a natural and realistic way. Actually, I seldom write "fiction" --- I write about what I encounter in life with a bit of fictionalization to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

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

MS: I'm not really too worried about your opinion of my writing. I'm really concerned about what you think of the way I look. Do I look thin to you? Yes, that is what I would ask someone who has just read my book. Actually, I have asked that question to about 50 people. So far, people are telling me I'm quite hot. This makes me feel swell and all soft inside.

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

MS: It makes me a bit nervous. Two people recently asked me to sign my book and I didn't know what to write or why they would care to have me write in their books. I worry a lot that someone is going to ask me for a refund. I've no money. I'd have to give them one of my shoes or something.

TSR: What are you working on now?

MS: Well, I'm actually still refining the other 105 stories that I decided were not fit for this collection. I've also been working on a couple of other odd little things here and there. And, of course, I'm always blogging about one thing or another. There are a lot of questions I'd like to ask Carly Simon. So, I just recently posted the most important questions. So far, no answer, but fingers crossed. I sure hope that those clouds in her coffee have blown away.

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

MSSo Many Ways to Sleep Badly by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Runaway by Alice Munro, The Nimrod Flip Out by Etgar Keret. I love the way Mattilda writes and I find a great deal of strength in his voice. This most recent collection was disorienting and fascinating to me. Alice Munro is just brilliant by any standard. Her writing haunts me and often fills me with a sense of dread that keeps my eyes glued to her words. Keret almost makes me laugh until I read between, around and beneath his lines.