Smoking With Justin Brouckaert

by Joe Lucido Read the Story December 15, 2014

I was so taken with the loneliness of the gigantic protagonist in this piece, the nostalgia for smallness, the rage of the masses below. Pretend there’s a for the gigantic. What details would the protagonist’s profile include? Would the selfie be a face shot or a full body shot? Dogs or cats?

The picture would have been taken before the gigantism really kicked in, because online dating is deceptive like that. I’m thinking a silhouette shot, him sitting on a piece of driftwood, looking out at the water. Sepia tones, of course. As for his profile, he would probably write a lot about his rock collection and its metaphorical implications, which might be kind of endearing until he started making inappropriate references to his pickax and asking nebulous questions like When, in the company of a kindred soul, does a snowy mountain turn to the sky?

No dogs or cats—small animals make him anxious.

Would you be so kind to list, in ascending order, some things in your life that feel/act/are the most gigantic? What qualities make these things so gigantic in your eyes?


That place is gigantic! Have you ever driven through it? There is lots of space for gigantic road trip epiphanies, gigantic hatred of Ohio, gigantic fights with previously loyal road trip companions.

J.J. Watt

He’s gigantic—probably a little more gigantic than Ohio—because he can make you feel so small. I never even played organized football, but I still live in constant fear that J.J. Watt will blow past my right tackle and crush me into dust.

The Ocean

The ocean is the most gigantic thing because it’s the thing that scares me the most.

If you yourself were so gigantic (not necessarily ruling out that you are, here) what would be your favorite dance move? Least favorite? Explain for those souls not so inclined to dance. Too, what would be your perfect dance floor, geographically speaking?

I don’t think my favorite dance move would be any different if I were gigantic—it would still be the Tree. Do you know the Tree? Basically you just stretch your arms wide and wave them like branches. You can even sway a little and even add a few squats for good measure. It is very intimidating—a classic for drinking game distractions—and I bet it’d be even better if you were gigantic.

Least favorite: breakdancing. Too hard to keep track of those gigantic limbs.

As for the perfect dance floor, you really just need a flat surface, right? You could do that lots of places, but I’m fond of the Midwest, so I think if you just plant one foot on the Nebraska/Kansas border and the other somewhere in the middle of Indiana, that would probably work just fine.

If you were to film the scene of the gigantic fall in the end of this piece, what would be the music to which you set the scene? In minutes, how long would the scene last? In ounces, what is the volume of tears a single viewer might cry?

I mean, people are living and dying while this dude is falling. The scene would have to take a while.

Let’s say the first six hundred words take up about an hour, and the last hundred take two. That’s a long movie. There would be some subplots in the last two-thirds of the film, tiny people living and dying, etc., and you might even forget about the falling—but then Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” would come on full blast and cue the waterworks. I’d say the average viewer would cry enough tears to refill his or her twelve-ounce can of beer, at least.

End the debate once and for all: Does size matter?

When you’re gigantic, size doesn’t matter.

About the Author:

Justin Brouckaert's work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Passages North and Hobart, among other publications. He is a James Dickey Fellow at the University of South Carolina, where he serves as fiction editor of Yemassee.

About the Interviewer:

Joe Lucido is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. He’s a former prose editor for Black Warrior Review. Some of his work can be found in Juked, Wigleaf, Passages North, and others. He grew up in St. Louis.