Laura BW 2 Your first book, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, came out in 2009. Now it’s 2013. What have you been up to for the last four years?

I lived in Gettysburg, PA, for a year and once saw a civil war reenactor at the grocery store. I lived in Baltimore for three years and fell hard for that place. Baltimore has its issues, but art is everywhere. For a year, I taught fiction at an all-boys high school. The rest of the years, I taught fiction to college kids and to adults. I learned to throw a decent left hook. I leaned how to sleep on planes. I got married. I wrote another story collection and a novel and started another novel set in Cuba. I moved to Massachusetts. I have to say, it’s been a good stretch, these last four years. 

ISLECoverLessons

1.

There are four of them.

Dana, Jackie, Pinky, and Cora are cousins. Pinky is also Dana’s little brother. They call themselves the Gorillas because all gangs need a name—see Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, Stopwatch Gang, Winter Hill Gang—and also because they wear gorilla masks during their hold-ups. They are criminals, but they still have rules: no hostages, small scores, never stay in one town for more than a week. It’s late summer and they’re roving through the Midwest, from motel to motel, making just enough to keep going. Dana watches the impossibly flat landscapes of Lafayette and Oneida pass through the car window and wonders how they all ended up here. Why didn’t they go to school and get regular jobs and get married and live in houses? The short answer: they are a group of people committed to making life as hard as possible.