Rachel B Glaser is a graduate of The University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s MFA Program in Fiction. Rachel has taught at Elms College and Flying Object. She was a Juniper Festival 2011 Writer-in-Residence. Her work has been published in McSweeney’s, New York Tyrant, and others. Minutes Books published her poetry chapbook, Heroes Are So Long.

Short Story Collections

Pee on Water
(Publishing Genius, 2012)

reviewed by Tania Hershman

Interview with Rachel B Glaser

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

Rachel B Glaser: I wrote the stories between 2006-2009. I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2005 and moved to Brooklyn with my friends. More compelled to write than to animate or paint, I started new stories like Pee On Water and The Sad Girlfriend which were more playful in form than my earlier stories.

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

RBG: While I was writing the story Pee On Water in 2006, I started to imagine a collection of that name and lay awake at night trying to imagine its cover. I started to doodle table of content lists in my notebook, whereas before I just doodled the names of everyone I had kissed.

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

RBG: The collection is an edited version of my masters thesis. All the stories from POW were in the thesis, except for the story The Jon Lennin Xperience which I wrote a few months afterwards. For the thesis I picked my strongest stories from the last few years. I tried to order them in a way that showed their variation, keeping the reader surprised and alert. I wanted the book to be like a magic thing people dragged around with them, unsure of what story would come next.

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

RBG: When talking about The Legend of Zelda, genius Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto said he wanted to take the idea of a game world even further, giving players a "miniature garden that they can put inside their drawer." This is how I see stories, as a little world inside a drawer. I feel the definition of a story is very open, pretty much any clump of words, but I view the experience of reading one much like how Miyamoto describes exploring the new world of a video game.

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

RBG: I occasionally write with my friends in mind. I sometimes remind myself of Jane Bowles or James Purdy or John Cassavetes as encouragement to push my work further. But more often then not, I am writing the story for the story, I'm trying to let the story realize and see itself. I feel affection for the bud of the story, and the challenge is to get the story to a place were it is stable in its existence.

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

RBG: I enjoy hearing which stories readers like the most/least, and hearing their theories about the stories.

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

RBG: It feels great! I like thinking of the books scattering around, ending up in people's bookshelves and under their beds. Its amazing how much mind-space a book takes up, but the world of the stories folds up into a little block. It is a relief to have the stories in a form that is easy to share.

TSR: What are you working on now?

RBG: I'm working on a lot of projects. I've been writing a poem a day for the last 55 days (along with the poet Christopher Cheney). I'm adapting one of my stories into a screenplay, reviving an old collaborative screenplay (with the writer Noah Gershman), writing a collaborative story with the writer John Maradik, and working on a new collection of stories.

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

RBG:  The last short story collection I read is James Purdy's Moe's Villa, which I find wildly funny and strange, very unexpected and inspiring. I'm also really enjoying the Collected Stories of Lydia Davis and the Collected Stories of Flannery O'Connor, but I haven't finished either one yet.
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>