Peter Gordon

Peter Gordon is a graduate of Yale whose short stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. His work has been anthologised, awarded a Pushcart Prize and cited in The Best American Short Stories series. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.

Short Story Collections

Man Receives a Letter
(Red Hen Press, 2009)

reviewed by Sarah Hilary

Interview with Peter Gordon

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

Peter Gordon: Most of the stories in the collection were written over a five year period. A couple of the stories were previously published over a decade ago but were extensively revised.

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

PG: No. But as I began to put together the collection, it was pretty clear that most of the stories I’ve written – and certainly the ones I thought would best cohere as part of a unified collection – reflected similar themes.

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

PG: I considered over 30 published stories, and a few unpublished ones, for the collection. My biggest goal was to create a book where the sum total adds up to something bigger than each part. It’s like climbing a hill one step at a time with each step affording a different view, and then reaching the top and looking back at something that surprises you. I left out many stories that I’m very attached to but that just didn’t make thematic sense as part of the collection. As for the order, I fiddled around with that quite a bit, and ultimately ordered the stories based largely on my own sense of natural progression as well as suggestions from the publisher. 

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

PG:  It means going on a journey, however brief, propelled by people, ideas and language that give you a fresh glimpse of what it means to be human.

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

PG:  The only reader I have in mind is someone who is open to the experience of reading serious fiction, in whatever mode or style that experience is delivered.

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

PG: Do you ever think about the stories – perhaps one story, or even one image – that relates in some way to the particular circumstances of your own life?

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

PG: It’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling. I love thinking about the fact that the book is out there in different places and in the hands of different people.

TSR: What are you working on now?

PG: I’m working on a cycle of new stories that are designed to ultimately add up to a collection.

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

PGIrish Girl, by Tim Johnston. If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, by Robin Black. Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, by Lydia Peelle. I enjoyed them all.
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Read: Glimmer Train