Smoking With Darby Larson

Read the Story September 5, 2004

Now? I thought you said this was just an interview.

No, we mean, what is your gender?


You know, people often say to me, “Hey Darby, are you a man or a woman?” and I say, “I’m a man.”

And they say, “I know a woman named Darby.”

And I say, “Oh really?” and they say, “But I guess there was that movie, ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People.’ Did you ever see that movie?”

And I say, “No.” And then the conversation ends, or becomes less interesting. But it’s weird having a girl’s name because sometimes I get solicitations in the mail for free subscriptions to 17 Magazine and free Tampax samples. Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m part of the team.

Can you tell us about the genesis of this story? Is Estelle someone you know?

I think I was getting frustrated by distractions at work one day, and I started to curse my own ability to sense things. I’m the kind of person that can think better if I sit alone in a silent dark room for two hours, and I guess I just took that to an extreme. I’ve toyed with the idea of solitary confinement in stories before, and I guess I’ve always been fascinated at what would happen if someone were completely cut off from the world forever. What would I do in that situation? Would I be interesting enough to keep myself company? It’s kind of morbid thinking, really. But it’s a facet of ourselves that I don’t think we’ll ever really know unless we experience it.

Estelle is not someone I know. She is make-believe. I will mention, however, that this is not the only time she appears in a story of mine.

We’ve heard that Darby Larson doesn’t want to be a mouse pad or a spider or a woman or the President of the United States. Can you tell us what you would want to be, if you couldn’t be a man?

I would want to be the head of a golf club. And I don’t mean like the leader of a group of golfers. I mean like that top bulky part of a golf club. Preferably a driver of some sort. It would be so fun to get swung around so fast like that. Instead of that “woosh” sound that it makes, I would say, “Weeeeeee!” And then punch that stupid ball like hundreds of yards away. It would be like riding in a loop-d-loop rollercoaster everyday.

How do you feel about flash fiction vs. other forms of literature?

This is something I jump back and forth on. I think I have a lot more respect for authors who write good novels than for authors who write flash or short stories, just because of the effort involved. I read a lot more novels than I do short stories. But I guess I read a lot more
flash than I do short stories too. What we ought to do is just nix short stories and say, either write it in under a 1000, or stretch it out to 100,000. Either I’m reading to get a quicky, or I’m entering a long marriage. Anything in the middle is dangerous.

Poetry is something I could never get into. I have fun writing it sometimes, but I rarely enjoy it when I read other people’s.

Is there any other form of literature? Song lyrics? I love interesting song lyrics, but rarely find them. Dan Bern, Ani DiFranco, They Might Be Giants, June Melby, Bob Dylan; are a few I can think of that consistently surprise me.

I’m not a big nonfiction fan. I think I write it horribly. I’ve read an occasional memoir that perked my interest, such as Eggers’ AHWOSG, but I’m usually disappointed in this genre. Especially if it’s like an inspirational or self-help book. I can’t read a book that touts its own inspiration. I like to find my inspiration in things where one wouldn’t necessarily think to look for inspiration.

About the Author:

Darby Larson's work has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Tyrant, No Colony, Wigleaf, Pequin, Night Train, Opium Magazine, etc. He edits the online journal ABJECTIVE.

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.