Smoke & Mirrors: An Interview with Lynn Mundell

by Michael Czyzniejewski Read the Story September 17, 2018

A common (i.e. clichéd) question that gets asked in interviews is what three people—living or dead—the interviewee would have dinner with, and there’s always the Jesus, Gandhi, Elvis, John Lennon-type answers. I want to know which three women, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom you’d want to be a sister wife.

I’m imagining that sister wives spend a lot of time together. A lot. So I am going to make it work for me and my long days. I’m going with Dorothy Parker, for her acerbic wit and because she will be family, so she will have to edit my stories. Then Joy Mangano, the inventor of the self-wringing Miracle Mop and other household ingenuities, so our homes are in good shape with minimal effort. Then I’m going to round it out with Amanda Palmer, the glam-punk performer. She is going to bring the fireworks and feminism, and maybe teach me how to play the piano and generally be more dramatic and interesting.

Let’s pretend this is Bizarro World, and instead of sister wives there are brother husbands and a common Wife. Imagine that and tell me what pops into your head.

It’s not pretty. There are a lot of monster trucks in the driveway, and weekends playing paintball and evenings arm-wrestling since there will be frustrations. The wife would have to be pretty tough—a cross between Dorothy Parker and Amanda Palmer.

Floor-length denim skirts: Something you’re glad belongs to the sister wife sect, or something you think you might need to take back?

True story: I rocked a very long, tiered denim skirt in the ’80s. Sort of Little House on the Prairie meets Jordache.  I once stood too close to my parents’ wood-burning stove and it caught fire, which was put out by a quick-thinking visiting cousin. I really can’t endorse wearing yards and yards of material. It’s just not safe, people.

I’ve asked questions that assume you’re not a sister wife, share-married to some Husband. This just struck me: Is it wrong for me to assume that?

I’ve been bogarting the same man since I was nineteen. So long, in fact, that I recently miscalculated the number of years, which is thirty-four. I may have dental issues, poor math skills, and problems saying no, but I have been very, very lucky in love.

Since bigamy is illegal and most people don’t think it’s dope, is it OK to poke fun?

Since pretty much nothing is off limits these days, I am going with a resounding yes. I should say that I am alternately baffled and fascinated by plural marriage, but I was once a lonely young girl, so I really do understand Trudy.

Maybe I’ve been utilizing the wrong stereotype here: If you were a carny (again, I’m assuming you’re not …), what game would you operate, how would the scam work, and what tattoo would you have on your neck?

I’d like to say that I am not judging carnies everywhere. This is just me pretending to be a carny, OK? I would do something that is not dangerous, is in the shade because I have very fair skin, and where I am buffered from the public, because I am an introvert. I have landed on the somewhat benign pitching of pennies into goldfish bowls, with the winner getting to keep the fish and its bowl. I think I am using bowls with very small openings so the chances of getting a coin in are really slim. My tattoo is going to be of five goldfish in a bowl, with Trudy written in cursive above the smallest one.

About the Author:

Lynn Mundell's writing has appeared in The Sun, Booth, Portland Review, Permafrost, Tin House online, and elsewhere. Her story "The Old Days," originally published in Five Points, is included in the W.W. Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. Lynn's work has been recognized on the Wigleaf "Top 50 Very Short Fictions" long lists of 2017 and 2018. She is co-editor of 100 Word Story and its anthology Nothing Short Of: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story (Outpost19). Learn more about her at  http://lynnmundell.com/

About the Interviewer:

Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of three books of short fiction, most recently I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside  Splendor, 2012) and he serves as the interviews co-editor of SLQ.

About the Artist:

Find more photography by Eugenia Maximova at Unsplash.