Suzanne Rivecca's fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices, and has received the Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. A former Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University, she lives in San Francisco, where she worked in the homeless-services sector for several years.  In July 2010 three of her stories were performed in Los Angeles’ New Short Fiction Series.

Short Story Collections

Death is Not an Option
(W.W. Norton, 2010)

reviewed by Scott Doyle

Interview with Suzanne Rivecca

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

Suzanne Rivecca: About six years.

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

SR: Not initially. The idea of a collection came when I realized I had a lot of stories that addressed similar themes, and protagonists who were struggling with variations on those themes.

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

SR: I wrote a lot of stories that I’d intended to be part of the collection, but had to scrap them because they weren’t good enough. And there were a couple I adamantly didn’t plan to include in the collection, but ended up including them anyway because I realized how they played off the others. In terms of the order, I aimed an emotional trajectory, a kind of arc, in which each successive protagonist has ascended a little higher in the reluctant journey to self-confrontation. The protagonists are also ordered by age; the narrator of the first story is 17 and the final story’s main character is in her 30s.

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

SR: A way of making sense of the world, a scattering of crumbs toward an unknown and uncertain destination.

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

SR: I don’t; the idea of a reader only occurs to me after the stories are finished. When I write, it’s always been purely for myself, a very intuitive and immersing process.

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

SR: What do you think the last story’s about?

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

SR: Good, and strange. I’ve had people at readings say wonderful things to me, and others have said bizarre things (including a woman who told me, in the most passive-aggressive way possible, that I’d pronounced a word wrong.) Putting myself out there is bot validating and a bit frightening.

TSR: What are you working on now?

SR: I’m working on a novel set in New Orleans in 1848. It’s about Walt Whitman’s brief stint as a journalist in New Orleans and his relationship with his younger brother.

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

SR:  Ellen Gilchrist’s In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, David Means’ The Secret Goldfish, and Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage.”
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