Today I’m welcoming David S. Atkinson, author of Not Quite So Stories, to the Readaslot blog. He’s talking about his latest publication and his writing in general.
I’m just going to go ahead and ask the question everyone is wondering. What in the world is Absurdist Literary Fiction?
People often disagree on exactly what a genre is or isn’t, but I view Absurdist Literary Fiction as stories that are primarily realistic and straightforward, but involve elements of the ridiculous or irrational, often as symbols for aspects of life that characters have difficulty grappling with. Etgar Keret’s story “Fatso” uses a woman who turns into a slovenly male rugby fan during the full moon as a symbol for how lost people are when getting into serious relationships. A wildebeest takes over a characters washing machine in Nathaniel Tower’s story “Laundry Day” as a symbol of his attempt to come to terms with being a first time father. Similarly, a clockwork monkey toy with cymbals stands in for our struggle with technology in my story “Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!”
What inspired you to write the genre – Absurdist Literary Fiction?
I had been writing very realistic, straightforward stories for a while when I had a couple of off the wall ideas pop into my head. They seemed very fun to work with, so I went ahead and wrote them (such as my story “Context Driven”) even though I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. Then I ran into Etgar Keret’s The Nimrod Flipout and Amelia Gray’s Museum of the Weird. They were doing similar things to what I was having fun with, and gave me a lot in terms of what I could do with this sort of thing. They led to other authors (George Saunders, Aimee Bender, Haruki Murakami, and so on), and I started comparing all this to the sort of approach to the world I saw in myths like Rudyard Kipling’s Just so Stories. I got the idea for this collection and everything kind of snowballed from there.
Describe Not Quite So Stories in 140 characters (aka a Tweet).
Life is absurd, beyond our comprehension. We simply have to proceed in the face of that. My stories examine how different characters manage (and/or fail) to do this.
What do you want readers to get out of your writing and this book in particular?
Ultimately, I want readers to enjoy themselves. I’d also like them to feel a little more okay in the face of life’s absurdities and perhaps regain a sense of wonder with respect to the world, but only if they’re entertained first. Fun is first and foremost. I’d definitely like people laughing when they read my story “The Boys of Volunteer Fire Two-Twenty-Two-Point-Five (and a Half).”
If you could sit down to dinner with one writer, dead or alive, who would you pick?
Probably the dead one so I have less competition for the food. To be serious though, I’d probably pick either Etgar Keret or Amelia Gray since it was their work that really got me going in Absurdist Literary Fiction. Of the two, I’d probably have to pick Etgar Keret because, in addition to being a fascinating person from everything I’ve seen, he also seems really, really nice. He’d probably let me have some food. Maybe we could even write notes to each other on the plates like in my story “The Des Moines Kabuki Dinner Theatre.” Amelia Gray is fascinating too, and I’m sure is really nice, but I’m betting she could take my food from me by force if she wanted. Perhaps simply because it was funny.
It’s quite the jump from patent attorney to absurdist literary fiction writer. Where do you find the time to fit it all in?
I just grab chances wherever I can. I put in a lot of hours at the office, but I spend most of the rest of my time reading or writing (still primarily reading, usually about 200-300 books a year). I read/write on the way to work, on the way home from work, whenever my wife is off at tennis, and so on. I wrote the initial draft of my story “Dreams of Dead Grandpa” while waiting for my wife to get done at a seminar while we were on vacation in Paris. If writing is something you really need to do, it’ll fit in somewhere. There may simply be other things you don’t do. For example, I don’t get a whole lot of time to watch TV.
Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it?
I’ll have to be a little cagey about that. I’ve got something lined up, but we haven’t announced yet. I’ll just say it’s in a post-post apocalyptic vein, a response to the post-apocalyptic obsession that’s been so big recently (as well as further back than that, since even apparently Christopher Columbus once predicted the end of the world).
What’s your favorite part about the writing process?
I like the planning phase quite a bit, getting to sit around and dream while there are so many possibilities. I still think that has to pale though in view of getting to read back over a full draft. Writing is a messy process and I’m always sure that I’m going to be horrified when I look back at what I’ve been struggling over for so long. When it turns out to the contrary and I’m holding something beautiful in my hands it almost seems like a gift that came from somewhere else, a changeling. My story “Domestic Ties” was particularly like that.
What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you while writing Not Quite So Stories?
The most amusing would probably be the inspiration for “Context Driven.” I was out at a restaurant with my wife and walked over to get in our car afterward. I turned the key in the door, but nothing happened. I simply stood there a minute until my wife said: “You know this isn’t our car, right?” Turns out, it was the same color and year as ours, though a Camry instead of a Corolla. There are millions of cars out there that look almost just like mine, and I’d walked up to that one instead. Just kept trying to unlock the door. The actual owners were standing only a little way away on the sidewalk, staring at me. It was pretty awkward, but then everyone started laughing. I was still pretty embarrassed, but then I got an idea for a story based on the experience (e.g., what would have happened if my key had worked even though it wasn’t my car?). In my defense, my wife said she’d pretty much made the same mistake, but realized that our Lenore seat covers weren’t there.
~ About the Book~
Title: NOT QUITE SO STORIES
Author: David S. Atkinson
Publisher: Literary Wanderlus LLC
Genre: Absurdist Literary Fiction
The center of Not Quite So Stories is the idea that life is inherently absurd and all people can do is figure out how they will live in the face of that fact. The traditional explanation for the function of myth (including such works as the relatively modern Rudyard Kiping’s Just So Stories) is as an attempt by humans to explain and demystify the world. However, that’s hollow. We may be able to come to terms with small pieces, but existence as a whole is beyond our grasp. Life simply is absurd, ultimately beyond our comprehension, and the best we can do is to just proceed on with our lives. The stories in this collection proceed from this conception, each focusing on a character encountering an absurdity and focusing on how they manage to live with it.
For More Information
- NOT QUITE SO STORIES is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
- Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
~ About the Author ~
David S. Atkinson is the author of “Not Quite so Stories” (“Literary Wanderlust” 2016), “The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes” (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and “Bones Buried in the Dirt” (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in “Bartleby Snopes,” “Grey Sparrow Journal,” “Atticus Review,” and others. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/ and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.
For More Information
- Visit David S. Atkinson’s website.
- Find out more about David at Goodreads.
- Visit David’s blog.
~ Giveaway ~
David S. Atkinson is giving away one paperback copy each – BONES BURIED IN THE DIRT & THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL PANCAKES!
Terms & Conditions:
By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive either BONES BURIED IN THE DIRT or THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL PANCAKES
This giveaway begins March 1 and ends on May 27
Winners will be contacted via email on May 29.
Winners have 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!