Finding horrific and complicated humanity inside of a simple stare down between a rat and an exterminator, philosophical treatises, even cracking open the words themselves and experimenting with the implications of their order.
I wanted to write a story about migration and where we come from. When I look at my own family who came over on the Mayflower from England, I see how they got entangled in the Salem Witch Trials. And I come from a place of complication that resulted from those trials. I was trying to find a way to write about three modes of time at once and I came across some music by the Chinese composer Tan Dun.
FC2 was the kind of press I’d save my cash for at writers’ conference book sales. Or if I didn’t have any cash, I’d spend hours browsing the catalog online. Between FC2 and Dalkey Archive, I have spent all my imaginary dollars.
I’d read about FC2 for a long time, which meant that when I joined the board of National Book Critics Circle in the ’90s I was excited to meet Ron Sukenick who, I decided, looked a bit like John Updike, the big difference being that Ron was a warm, immediate, generous and — do I dare say lovable? — person.
Although FC2 feels like something I’ve always known about at a sort of cellular level, the truth (and I use the term loosely) is that I was a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, thumbing through new arrivals at the library late one Friday night, when I stumbled across a copy of 98.6.
The four winds, humors, blood types, corners, directions, seasons, the four chambers of the heart, the four chambers of a cow’s stomach, the four-in-hand knot, the four railroads of Monopoly, four eyes, four dead in Ohio, the four speeds of the record player playing quartets, Motown and Moptops.