Leslie Bazzett’s story, “Preludes,” was published in Issue 63.2 of The Carolina Quarterly. Her work has been published in New England Review, where it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received special mention, in addition to West Branch (also nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and New England Review Digital. Her novel, Abandon, was a finalist for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, and was nominated for a Pushcart Editor’s Choice Award. Preludes will be her first publication in the Quarterly. Leslie grew up in a family of artists and was trained as a classical musician but, from the age of 10, has always wanted to be a writer.
- Moira Bradford, Fiction Staff
Leslie Bazzett (LB): I have always written, but I only recently attended my first writers’ conference. A friend of mine—a playwright—mentioned to me that people would be obsessed with point of view. I definitely found that to be true!
Carolina Quarterly (CQ): What do you think the obsession with point of view is?
LB: I think… I was a little astonished. I read a lot of work where there is shift in the narrative point of view, and I’m married to a poet, and so I’m used to approaching reading with verve. I respond to that (the obsession with POV) with a certain amount of bafflement and amusement. I think people who go to workshops are attuned to talking about point of view shifts, but I don’t think it throws readers. I think this is a case where writers are being lazier reader than readers are!
Continue reading An Interview with Leslie Bazzett
By Michael Leal García
A Carolina Quarterly web exclusive
From birth until the sixth grade, home was a room on the tenth floor of the Hotel El Dorado in downtown Los Angeles. During its heyday in the 1910s and the 1920s, the hotel stood at the foot of the Spring Street Financial District—the Wall Street of the West—amidst the Braly Building (at twelve stories tall, the city’s first skyscraper), the Hotel Alexandria (frequented by Humphrey Bogart and Greta Garbo), and, just blocks away, City Hall, all regal and white, looming over the blooming metropolis. For a brief period of time the El Dorado even laid claim to its own celebrity resident in Charlie Chaplin. By the 1960s the financial institutions had mostly fled west to Wilshire and Figueroa, and the burgeoning quarter was rendered hollow, splendor laid waste.
By the 1980s the El Dorado was home to rats and roaches, and the elevator was jumpy, alternately lurching and painfully still. Apprehensive of those on the other side of our thumping walls, Mom wouldn’t let my siblings and I venture alone into the hallways, cast in the dingy, unsaturated hues of seventies film stock. The fire escape creaked under the rumbling footsteps of anonymous neighbors. The rats, with their tiny pink feet, scurried along our walls. At midnight sirens wailed angry and sorrowful songs, occasionally in response to a neighbor free falling to earth – or at least that was the story concocted by my father before he up and left.
Continue reading El Dorado
by Sjohnna Bruce McCray
A Carolina Quarterly web exclusive
There comes a time in every superhero’s life when he must reveal his identity to the ones he loves. He’s kept his late-night acrobatics hidden to protect his family and friends from enemies who would strike when he was most vulnerable: ordering a caramel macchiato, taking little Johnny to hockey practice, picking up mom from dialysis. Gay people face a similar dilemma. When we reveal our rainbow tights, it’s usually because the jig is up.
Some parents never catch on, while others put the evidence together—like a disco-themed CSI but with more body glitter. “The only sport he ever played was that Dance Dance Revolution, always making a racket with those high kicks.” Observant parents suspect their son is gay well before he decides to double major in theater and blowjobs. Or, if you’re like me, your father might casually mention that if his son were a fag, he would kill him with his bare hands. He says it would be satisfying, too, and glances in my direction before asking for the salt.
Continue reading Holy Jockstraps, Batman!
Nahal Suzanne Jamir recently published her first short story collection, In the Middle of Many Mountains (Press 53, 2013). She was awarded the 2012 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize and won second prize in the 2012 Press 53 Open Awards in Flash Fiction. Prior to this collection, her work appeared in The South Carolina Review, Jabberwock Review, Ruminate Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, and Passages North, among others. To read her story, “In Perfect English,” check out the Fall 2011 issue of CQ.
Jamir explores a range of themes in her work, from the distance between immigrant parents and their American-born children to the experience of single parents struggling to provide stability for their children. The importance of family and culture is highlighted in her work, as is the impact of stories and their telling. Whether in the bright burst of her flash fiction or the unfolding of a novella, her work is engrossing and thought-provoking. The Carolina Quarterly recently spoke with Jamir via email about her collection.
–Laura Bennett, Fiction Staff
Carolina Quarterly (CQ): First, let me say that I truly enjoyed reading your collection. I was impressed with the wide-ranging scope of the work. As a reader, I was given a glimpse into many different worlds, from science fiction to a modern immigrant experience to the domestic narrative. One of the primary ties that seems to bind the collection together is a concern with the importance of stories and storytelling to individuals, families, and cultures. Is your interest in the role of stories in society what led you to become a writer? Or did the process of putting stories to paper spark that interest?
Nahal Suzanne Jamir (NSJ): As a child, I always had an interest in stories. I think this is natural for children. I had stories coming at me on all fronts, oral and written, family stories and science fiction stories, etc. Yet, at a certain age, I started to get curious about the lives of the people I was closest to. When I asked my parents about their lives, they dodged the questions. My mother would not speak of her own story but of the lives of her ancestors. My father wouldn’t speak of his own story but of the places he’d been to or lived in—and the stories of places. So, I would say that not getting answers (or not getting straight answers) transformed my view of stories. As a child and youth, I found my parents’ evasion annoying, but as an adult, I looked back at those non-answers and “side” stories as parts of some sort of whole. It became clear that nothing was clear. There was no one story that would answer my questions. As this realization grew, my stories became more fragmented and my interest in the role of stories in my cultures (both American and Persian) grew. Still, I don’t know if I know exactly how to describe the role of stories in society. At Texas State University, I was lucky to have Tim O’Brien as a teacher. At the end of our workshop in 2003, he said. “Stories aren’t about what we understand. They’re about what we don’t understand, what we can’t understand.” Some of this may make more sense in the context of writing nonfiction, but all fiction writers and poets are writing from a personal space. That personal space may be literal understanding or emotional understanding or imaginative understanding of each writer’s life experience. These different approaches lead to different types of stories, and just as a mosaic can mean something to the artist who constructed it, the recipient (reader, viewer, etc.) will make his/her own meaning. Storytelling is not a simple act of reflection—unless we imagine two mirrors facing each other.
Continue reading An Interview with Nahal Suzanne Jamir
CQ is pleased to announce that Corrie Williamson and Suzanne Marie Hopcroft are our 2013 nominees for Best New Poets. Williamson’s poem “The Mole, the Sweet Potato, and the Possibility of Allegory” appeared in Issue 62.2 and Hopcroft’s poem “One-Way” was published in our latest, Issue 63.1.
Hopcroft – “One Way”
Williamson – “The Mole, the Sweet Potato, and the Possibility of Allegory”