“Set the Top of My Head on Fire”: An Interview with Guest Reader Mel Bosworth

by Christopher Allen See all Guest Readers

Hey, Mel! First off, thank you so much for guest editing for SmokeLong. I’d like to start with a question you put to Ryan Ridge (who’ll be guest reading for us later this summer) in an interview about your collaborative collection, Camouflage Country: Why should people give a damn about short fiction?

If it’s done well, short fiction can save lives. Plus it’s really fun to read and doesn’t take much time.

You’ve been the series editor for the Wigleaf Top 50 and associate editor for The Best Small Fictions, which means you’ve read a ton of small stories. What do you look for when you’re choosing stories for these Best-of parties?

Great first lines. Great last lines. Great lines in between. Great momentum. Great movement. Great surprises. I think a story is great when it can set the top of my head on fire.

What makes you stop reading a story?

Lack of momentum. If a story stalls, I’m apt to climb off and start running.

What are you working on these days? I saw a chapbook of yours was a finalist in the Black River chapbook competition. Rumor has it you have a second collaboration with Ryan Ridge in the works. Tell us about that.

It’s very much in the works and it’s called WEIRD YEAR. It’s gonna be big and weird and great. Ryan and I have been playing together for many moons now. It’s always an excellent time. He’s a mad genius and a total pro.

Could you share (the links to) a few flashes you love?

A Good Job by Dani Blackman

Cold Fish by Zachary Doss

Neighbors by Christy Crutchfield


About the Reader:

Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel Freight, the poetry chapbook Every Laundromat in the World, and co-author with Ryan Ridge of Second Acts in American Lives. His work has appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Per Contra, New World Writing, Santa Monica Review, Melville House, American Book Review, and elsewhere. A former series editor for the Wigleaf Top 50 and a former assistant editor for The Best Small FictionsMel curates the Small Press Book Review, an online archive. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

About the Interviewer:

Christopher Allen is a translator, freelance editor and the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press). Allen’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Best Small Fictions 2019[PANK], Indiana Review, Split Lip Magazine, Longleaf Review and others. He is the co-editor of SmokeLong Quarterly.