Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Steve Almond. His new book, William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life, is available from Ig Publishing.

 

This is Steve’s fourth time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 9, on October 16, 2011, and again in Episode 302, on August 10, 2014, and Episode 513, on April 8, 2018.

Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. Last year, he published Bad Storiesa literary investigation of what the hell just happened to our country, which he wrote to keep from going crazy. (You can find his latest rants here or here.)

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stevehimmerGood morning. Your novel Fram is about people at work, more or less, but by the end of the story I wondered if some of your characters might need to seek new employment. So I’m going to ask you what Forbes says are the most difficult job interview questions.

Oh, um… okay?

 

Why is there a gap in your work history?

It hasn’t been that long, has it? What’s the usual time between books? I guess it feels like this one took a long time because the research for it and some of the ideas have been in my head for years. So I’d say I’ve been working on it in one way or another all along, even if it’s not clear on my résumé.

 

Tell me one thing you would change about your last job.

I don’t think I’d want to change it. My last book, I mean. There are things I sometimes wish I’d done more of or less of, like any writer, probably. But at some point I guess a book is as close to what you ideally want it to be as you’re capable of making it at the time and you have to accept that even though there might be another level to go to maybe you’re not going to get there. At least not this time. Does that sound defeatist? Like an apology for bad art? I don’t mean it that way.

frambigUnderground again and out of the heat so more comfortable for it, on the platform and shoulder to shoulder with other government employees at his own grade and above or below, Oscar awaited a train. Across the tracks on a wall hung a huge poster advertising the TV show Alexi had mentioned, To The Moon!, with its big silver slogan, “Who will conquer the greatest frontier?”

He shook his head, sighed to his scuffed shoes, and wondered how anyone could get so excited about something that’s all automated, the work done by computers, while women and men who could be anyone or even no one sit in a box and wait to arrive so they can turn around and go home. There’s the science, of course, he wouldn’t disparage that, the behind-the-scenes unsung work of professionals like himself, but why pretend there’s more to it? Why pretend it’s real exploration when it’s mostly a video game? The astronauts mere avatars for self-directed machines.

Laura Ellen Scott had a lot of wishes granted in 2011: a collection of microfictions, Curio, from Uncanny Valley Press, a promotion to Full-Term Professor in the English Department of the Mid-Atlantic college at which she teaches, and the publication of her first novel, Death Wishing, with Brooklyn’s fab Ig Publishing.