Carol Novack is the former recipient of a writer’s award from the Australian government, the author of a poetry chapbook, an erstwhile criminal defense and constitutional lawyer in NYC, and the publisher of Mad Hatters’ Review. Fictions and poems may be found in numerous journals, including American Letters & Commentary, Caketrain, Drunken Boat, Exquisite Corpse, Fiction International, First Intensity, Gargoyle, Journal of Experimental Literature, LIT, and Notre Dame Review, and in many anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, Diagram III, and The &Now Awards: the Best Innovative Writing. Writings in translation may or will be found in French, Italian, Polish and Romanian journals.

Short Story Collections

Giraffes in Hiding: The Mythical Memoirs of Carol Novack
(Spuyten Dyuvil Press, 2010)

reviewed by Michelle Bailat-Jones

Interview with Carol Novack

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

Carol Novack: Almost all of the works were written from 2005 through 2009. One story was drafted circa 1990 and revised … and revised.

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

CN: Not at all. I "returned," with focus, to writing circa 2004¸ after a long hiatus. I started experimenting with my voice/s and followed their dictations.

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

CN: I chose what I believed were my strongest pieces. I arranged the sections of the book in rough themes introduced by apt quotations I liked. It seemed appropriate to start with fictions dealing with childhood and the relationships/patterns that carry over throughout one’s life.

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

CN: Very subjectively: a narrative with some sense of movement, character/s, ruminations, metaphors, insights, rhythm, anticipation, revelations, vibrant images, surprises. I don’t believe in rules. I take dictation from the flow of metaphors that surface from my unconscious as I write, think of my writing self as a metaphorist.

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

CN: No.

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

CN: Simply, "What struck you, if anything? What did you connect with?" "What excited or inspired you?" "What turned you off and why?"

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

CN: I’m happy to hear that people are appreciating the book. The rave reviews have astonished me, as I always feel an outsider, stylistically and otherwise, not part of the so-called "innovative" literary cliques, not an academic, critic, etc. I never expected Giraffes to be a big seller, an understatement. And I haven’t entered it for awards, as the cost of entry fees plus shipping is ridiculous. Also, it’s probably too quirky to win anything. Yet there are those who love the book, and I’m gratified, though always a bit surprised, but then I think, they know how to listen to my words as they read.

TSR: What are you working on now?

CN: My journal, new press, blog, retreat, returning to a novella or novelette … have other writing projects, one a collaboration I must return to when I have time and focus, another a novel¸ and a third a meandering multi-media journey..

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

CN: A Life on Paper, by Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud is the only short story collection I’ve finished this past year. I tend to dip in and out of collections, including the not necessarily absolutely “nonfiction” anthology in which I’m included: New Cross-Fucked Musings on a Manic Reality: Nonfiction of the Enigmatic Polygeneration (ed.), other contemporary anthologies, books by friends, including Yuriy Tarnawsky, and collections of stories by authors such as Angela Carter, Beckett, and Kafka. I seem to have mainly novels and poetry collections on my nightstand and coffee table and watch a lot of European films.
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