Angry Squirrels, Psychic Twins: The David Schuman Interview

It’s true, what they say: many of us are awaiting the David Schuman book. There is unrest among the initiates. Will it be a short story collection, a scroll, a novel in the form of a grocery list? When will it arrive? What will its SUBJECT be? These are all difficult questions to answer, but the fact is that David Schuman’s work gets under your skin and makes you see things. He gets the details right. Exactly right. Repeatedly. Like how certain guys from Animal Control are quick to reach for the word “domicile” — cf. the amazing story “Squirrel.” Like Donald Barthelme and Joy Williams, he is a master of the off-kilter detail and the deadpan line. The only thing we can safely say about the David Schuman book is that it will be worth waiting for.

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Thanks to Anton DiSclafani for forwarding these questions:

What is the working title of the book?

It’s a story collection I’m currently thinking of as Breeding Pair but that could change. I’m working on a novel as well. I enjoy the phrase “my untitled novel.”

Where did the idea come from for the book?

There are a lot of stories in the collection and so a lot of different ideas. But the idea or theme that’s sort of evolved to wrangle the stories is that of parenting—of being a parent to a person or a pet, but also the kind of parenthood/stewardship we humans have over the world (our successes and, mostly, failures in that department).

What genre does your book fall under?

I write a lot of flash and microfiction, and these are included in the collection, but there are longer stories and a sort of novella, so I guess just literary fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I keep on thinking of Patton Oswalt as the male protagonist in the stories that have one of those. He’s about my age. He plays losers with real dignity and humor (I really liked him inYoung Adult), and as a person in the real world he seems to have his heart in the right place.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

He thought the worst part of being grown was realizing how inevitable everything is.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Still drafting…

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The corny answer: the birth of my daughter and her first five years have helped to galvanize my thoughts about the collection (and other things). I’ve thought a lot about her future in the world, what it will be like—my one attempt at speculative fiction in the collection is basically me trying to figure out what the future will be like after I’m dead. I guess that answer is too morbid to be corny.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A character writes a comic book called Frida Kahlo, Luchadora. Angry squirrels. Psychic twins. A stone wall stuffed with dead toads.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Not sure yet.

My tagged writer for next week is:

Anne Sanow

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