Smoking With Ben Ehrenreich

Read the Story December 15, 2007

I’m curious about your decision to use lowercase Roman numerals in the title, as opposed to their uppercase counterparts, or no numerals at all.

This story is the second of several that I’ve written about Truth, hence the need for numerals. It’s part of a series of very short, allegorical stories. As to the lowercasing, I suppose I didn’t want the numerals to distract. “Truth II” looks a bit too monumental.

What inspired you to turn truth into a character? Does truth exist, or is it all about perspective?

Of course she exists—I wrote about her. I couldn’t just make this stuff up. But that Truth exists seems to me only the beginning of the problem. Where is she? What’s she like? Is she really a she? These are some of the things I wonder about. In this story she appears to have conflicting takes on some pretty fundamental issues, which may or may not answer your second question.

Why is Truth sitting on a milk crate?

There was no Barcalounger in that lot. Her choices were limited.

Do you come from a writerly family?

We are all literate enough, going back at least a few generations. I can’t speak for the great-greats, but the rest of us have all been able to manage the basics.

SLQ completed issue 18 at the close of summer and launched this issue, 19, on the threshold of winter. During the three months in between, the crops were harvested, the leaves fell, the rain returned, temperatures dropped, darkness lengthened. Death in increments. How does the turning of the seasons affect your “muse,” your inspiration?

I live in Los Angeles, where the rains quite notably have not returned. Usually they come in October, but they didn’t last year, and barely did this year, which means that as of this writing, we’ve had about 20 months without moisture. Temperature change has been negligible. Leaf loss hardly noticeable. The only real seasonal shift is the arrival of fire. So I crave clouds, gaze longingly at open expanses of water, curse the sun. I still manage to write a fair amount. I don’t know, maybe I’m stingier with metaphors than I would be if I lived in Vermont.

About the Author:

Ben Ehrenreich is the author of the novel The Suitors.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.