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 Alexandra Chasin 


Alexandra Chasin received her PhD in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University in 1993, and went on to teach literary and cultural studies at Boston College, Yale University, the University of Geneva, and Columbia University. Chasin's first book was a work of nonfiction called Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market. Kissed By is her first book of fiction. Chasin's creative work has been published in print in Denver Quarterly, AGNI, Chain, sleepingfish, West Branch, Phoebe, and The Capilano Review, and online in Exquisite Corpse, DIAGRAM, and elimae. She now teaches in the Writing Department at Lang College, The New School.

Short Story Collections

Kissed By 
FC2, 2007

Reviewed by Tania Hershman

 Interview with Alexandra Chasin 

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

Alexandra Chasin: About 6 years.

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

AC: No. In fact, even when it became clear that there were more than enough pieces to amount to a book, I thought they were too disparate, too formally diverse, to come together in a collection. Especially in a literary-historical moment when linked stories are popular and when writers often find their way into a voice or form or niche and stay there, I had to be persuaded that “range” could be an affirmative quality in a collection. My ideal reader – David Jauss, the gifted teacher, editor, and writer – persuaded me by asking, “When did it become a virtue to be the literary equivalent of John Wayne?”

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

AC: I left out a couple of pieces that struck the editors as “realist,” not exactly because I agreed with them, but because I was not too attached to those particular pieces to let them go. I had some difficulty ordering the collection. I placed the title piece first because it works as a kind of artistic credo for me and because it begins, “I began....” From there, I tried to alternate pieces with respect to their length, degree of formal experimentation, and degree of humor/seriousness. The last piece is a series of Indexes, so I put it at the end to mimic the place of Indexes in other books.

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

AC: The word “story” means, to me, something along the lines of plotted narrative, which is why I tend to avoid it in favor of the more amorphous, the more generically indeterminate, and therefore arguably more categorically capacious, “piece.”

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

AC:  No, but I can see that my writing requires, and therefore perhaps assumes, a certain quality, or rather, activity, in its readers; my prose tends to call for a fairly high degree of engagement – readers often need to participate in making sense of it.

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

AC: I’m often curious about whether the (intended) humor goes across because I have a fairly idiosyncratic sense of humor.

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

AC: I wish I knew.

TSR: What are you working on now?

AC: A novella that works with the proposition that historical events and forces determine individual personality and action more than familial events and forces do. And a longer work that is set in the early 19th Century, in which I take radical liberties with actual historical figures.

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

AC: Nam Le’s The Boat, Michael Martone by Michael Martone, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee.