Smoking With Gary Cadwallader

Read the Story March 15, 2006
story art

Let’s talk about that voodoo that you do so well. Man. Woman. Horse. What do these archetypes mean in Gary’s world?

The key word is magic. I’m not sure how men and women get together, or stay together, or come back together after separations, but they do and it all amazes me. So, in this story, the black horse is called Voodoo and our protagonists are magicians of one sort or another.

The “we” of the story reminds me of the camera at the beginning of Psycho or Citizen Kane—searching the world for a story, floating, disembodied, driven by”our” desire to trespass into a life other than our own. What is that opening “we” mean to you?

A camera lens. It also represents equality, a way to distance the reader from the subjects. We’ve all learned to write with a single point of view character and I wasn’t sure I wanted that. You have a bias with a single point of view. We readers want to believe in our hero. But in relationship struggles, there’s seldom one right viewpoint. One of the cool things about film is that there doesn’t have to be a POV character. There can be a “we”— a set of watchers. Why shouldn’t we try that in writing?

Does the West still exist?—and what’s it like out there?

My little world may or may not be part of the West. I think of it as this odd place where I live. Geographically, it isn’t west, so much as middle America. I mean middle, too. Ha! If you drew lines from one corner of the US to another, the place where all the lines intersect would be right over my double-wide. Thinking of it makes me feel like some fat spider sitting in his web. And here, the world is diverse, pluralistic, militaristic, peaceful, sensual, flippant. Truly odd. At the local hospital, we don’t have a rabbi on call, but we can get you a wiccan. Go figure.

I’ve always felt the genius of your work partially lay in its struggle with the notion of “man” and “woman”—and what happens when they get together and (perhaps more importantly) what happens when they are apart. What’s at stake in your struggle with understanding these separate yet connected identities?

Genius? Jeez. I’ll be high all month.

It is true, I’m only concerned with relationships. Sometimes, it’s a good thing to say to a woman, “I’m happy because…” and then nail down some detail that defines her as a unique being. So, I guess you could say, understanding relationships helps me understand who I am and who the person I’m with is. Maybe I’m learning how to act in relationships? I don’t know.

You’ve dedicated a lot of your writing career to the creation of flash fiction. Has it been worth it so far? Why? Why not?

It’s been fun, though everyone knows you have to write books to get anywhere. Maybe I’ll write a cookbook. Put little stories every so often. I’d like to do drawings too. Sigh. One doesn’t write flash fiction to have a career, you know? You do it to learn maybe. Or maybe to fulfill some need.

So, has it been worth it? Uh… sure?

About the Author:

Pushcart nominee Gary Cadwallader lives on a small farm in Warrensburg, Missouri where he likes to write about relationships between men and women.