Smoking With Glen Pourciau

by Beth Thomas Read the Story December 20, 2009

You use an unusual format. Why the one unbroken paragraph?

The one-paragraph format serves to focus the reader on the narrator’s voice or consciousness. He is in a state of heightened emotion, and he sees and experiences the situation in that context. There isn’t much air around him, so to speak. Writing the story in one paragraph is one way of getting the reader to experience events as he does.

We open upon a scene of sadness and pain, a moment of near comfort, then things going from bad to worse. Do you find this path often occurs in real life?

Things often get worse if the people involved cause them to get worse. The husband in the story doesn’t want to make the situation worse, yet his reactions push him to a point where he could make things much worse. But his wife tells him a story, and he pulls himself back.

The husband is grasping for control of something, anything. Will he find it?

In my opinion, a considerable part of the husband’s anxiety is related to fear about controlling himself. He faces decisions, and he is not in a good frame of mind to make them. In a word, he is afraid of himself. He does control himself in the end, with his wife’s help. Couplehood is fundamental to this story.

What does the man with the fork represent?

A fork can be a utensil used for a civilized purpose or a weapon, depending on the intent of the person holding it. Beyond that, I don’t want to put my interpretation between the reader and the story. Like the narrator, the reader is left to consider why the man is holding his fork upright.

What’s next for you? What can we expect to see from you in the near future?

I’m going to write more stories. I have stories coming out very soon at failbetter, New England Review, and TriQuarterly.

About the Author:

Glen Pourciau's first collection of stories won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. His second story collection is forthcoming from Four Way Books. He's had stories published by AGNI Online, Antioch Review, Epoch, New England Review, Paris Review, and other magazines.