Smoking With Aaron Teel
by Tara Laskowski
In the very first line, the mom says, "You're a single soul spit in two." I actually had a few readers email me to point out we had a typo in that line. However, I defended it, saying that the mom was drunk and misspoke. So set the record straight: does she say "spit" because she's drunk, or have we been holding fast to a typo all these weeks?
Art by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
When it first went up I was surprised to see it that way, and I thought about asking you guys to change it to ďsplit,Ē but then I came to the same conclusion you did, and I kind of fell in love with the sound of it. It was unintentional though, so I guess the short answer is that your readers were right, itís a typo.
Many of the stories I've read of yours, including this one, seem to be strong one-scene stories that are character driven. Is that true of your latest collection Shampoo Horns? Can you tell us a bit about how you put that collection together?
Shampoo Horns is a collection of flash, so in that regard each piece centers on a single scene or image, but they also add up to a larger narrative when read together. Theyíre all told from the point of view of a single character, a kid named Cherry Tree growing up in a trailer park in Texas. It started out as a series of non-fiction flashes that were first published in 2007 and got some positive attention. The finished version is largely fiction, but itís still reflective of my own experience, as close to a memoir as Iíll probably get.
How did this story begin for you—did you go with the idea of clichés first, or did you start writing these characters and the idea of clichés emerged from that?
ďDonít speak in clichés,Ē is something I heard a mother say to her son at a restaurant. Heíd said he was so hungry he could eat a horse, and she reprimanded him, so he sat quietly for half a minute, thinking, and then said he was so hungry he could eat an elephant. I liked the idea of a mother not wanting her child to use phrases like that, but the literal notion of trying not to speak in clichés is really just a frame for this kind of revealing little watershed moment between a mother and her twin sons.
If I were to force you to write another story about these characters, set ten years forward in time, what has become of them?
Iíve actually written several stories about them. The twins are the main characters in another collection of linked flash Iím working on now called Pop Gun War that follows them over several years. So Iíll just say that they keep struggling and kicking against each other but never end up very far apart. Thereís another piece about them called ďHow To DisappearĒ over at Monkeybicycle.
What's next for Aaron Teel?
Iím a high school teacher, so Iím back at work now, but Iíve been doing readings all over the place for Shampoo Horns. There are still a few left. Iíll be at the Sunday Salon series in Chicago on September 30th. You can see all the dates, get info on the book, and lots of other fun stuff at www.aaron-teel.com.
Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16-year-old internationally award-winning artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News web site and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run "See The Bigger Picture" global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.
Issue Thirty-Seven (September 24, 2012):
Two Boyfriends by Simon Barker «»
Two Days in American History by Patrick Allen Carberry «»
What I Told God by Sarah Carson «»
Partners by Simon Jacobs «»
Wreck by Will Kaufman «»
Keep It Down by Harry Leeds «»
Ants by Lindsey Gates Markel «»
Quantifiable Consequence by Adam Padgett «»
The Temperature At Which Paper Burns by Young Rader «»
Bad Traffic by Matt Rowan «»
Clearings by Joseph Spece «»
Texas Vs. London by Jon Steinhagen «»
Clichés by Aaron Teel «»
When I Was Twenty-Three by Dan Townsend «»
Revived by Eugenio Volpe «»
Jalapeno Summer by Ryan Werner «»
A Collector by Bess Winter «»
Simon Barker «»
Patrick Allen Carberry «»
Sarah Carson «»
Simon Jacobs «»
Will Kaufman «»
Harry Leeds «»
Lindsey Gates Markel «»
Adam Padgett «»
Young Rader «»
Matt Rowan «»
Joseph Spece «»
Jon Steinhagen «»
Aaron Teel «»
Dan Townsend «»
Eugenio Volpe «»
Ryan Werner «»
Bess Winter «»
Cover Art by Jennifer B. Hudson «»
Letter From the Editor
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