Smoking With Jeff Landon

Read the Story March 15, 2004

Your work is so tremendously nostalgic. Is there a particular time or place for which you personally long?

I don’t really long for the past, that much, but I like to write about teenagers because at that age everything is new and raw and dramatic and terrible and delirious. I like the extremes, and I miss that, absolutely.

How has teaching elementary school affected your writing?

Not much. But if I ever want to write about wedgies and ear flicks, farts and burps, crybabies and bullies, and an insatiable hunger for candy—well, I have my sources.

How do you feel about Flash versus other literary forms?

Flash—or whatever you want to call it—is close to poetry, but you can say the same thing about short stories. It’s all about finding the right characters, the right words, and the odd details—and losing everything that isn’t necessary. I love to write short stories and short-short stories. I’ve tried to write novels, but they were all, deeply, awful. When I read, it’s almost always short stories or poetry.

Do you have your own Carrie Wallace?

Uhm, uhm, sort of, in a way. The story is fiction, and for the most part it’s not about any specific person—it’s more about memory and time and the people and places that never go away, inside you.

Besides writing, what one activity would you really miss if it was taken from you?

Walking and baseball—I like to walk for a long time every day because that’s when I think about the things I want to write about. I like sports, but baseball, sitting outside at twilight with your beer and peanuts, man, I’d hate to lose that.

What authors have most strongly influenced your work?

A partial list of contemporary writers: Ron Carlson, Richard Bausch, Bobbie Ann Mason, Amy Hempel, Mary Robison, Judy Troy, Charles Dickinson, Nick Hornby, Tobias Wolff, Frederick Barthelme, Jill McCorkle, Susan Minot, Andre Dubus, J.D. Salinger, Mark Strand, Barry Hannah, Richard Yates, Raymond Carver, James Agee, Lee Smith, Jonathan Penner, Lynda Barry, Susan Hubbard, Nancy Lehman, and Theodore Weesner—and so many more. I’m also influenced and moved, daily, by the work of my writer friends.

About the Author:

Jeff Landon has been published in numerous places, print and online, including Crazyhorse, Wigleaf, FRiGG, Another Chicago Magazine, F(r)iction, and others. He is also a contributor to New Micro, an anthology of flash fiction published by W.W. Norton in 2018. Lately, he's been doing some chair yoga.