Listening back to this interview, I learned that I giggle and say “yeah” too much and my voice is kind of annoying. So I apologize ahead of time on those fronts. Fortunately, Bower does most of the talking and manages to compose himself better than I. Warning: this starts abruptly …
The first minute or so of this recording involves the hot button topic of transcription. Despite what I say at the interview’s start, I decided a full transcription of our chat was not in the cards, but I’ve included some choice excerpts below.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
“It wasn’t until I was in college … that I had to catch up to my own idea in my mind of who I was. It wasn’t until I went to West Virginia … when I experienced absolute loneliness for the first time … I found myself completely culturally isolated … my Midwestern-ness revealed itself in a major way … I was left with this idea that maybe I should write for real.”
“When you really get serious about writing … it’s really an act that can only take place in isolation.”
“Writing the first draft, that’s the fun part.”
“I’ve never been a Ray Bradbury type.”
Do you think writing can be taught?
“You can be technically better, 100% for sure.”
“You have to have utter confidence in what you’re doing.”
“In my (Creative Writing MFA) program … you got to see different versions of what you could become … A major part of it is the amount of time you get to spend on yourself.”
About My Other End of the Universe
“I don’t think it’s an accident that a lot of these stories have to do with adolescence and families. I think there’s something in the form that lends itself to this … This may be a little more of an authentic way of telling a story.”
“Our memories are so flawed that a lot of our most important ones aren’t even ours.”
“(A computer malfunction) made me care about a line.”
“When I’m writing a poem I feel like I’ve just gotten away with something.”
“The only reason this is a poem is because my computer’s broken.”
“Once you start filling things in, you have to fill more in … It wouldn’t be the voice of Al, the narrator … He wouldn’t have told a proper story of the family … As a writer I would have never been able to stop … This isn’t just a story told in fragments, this is how this guy thinks … He was trying to recreate his life with a lack of photographic evidence.”
Bower and co-author Margaret Chapman will be reading at one of my favorite independent bookstores, The Book Cellar in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, on Wednesday, Nov 19 at 7pm. Pick up a glass of wine, do some Christmas shopping and hear them read!
Bower and co-author Meg Pokrass will be reading in San Francisco in January – details to follow!