Smoking With Kim Chinquee

by Kathy Fish Read the Story September 29, 2010

“Hip” is such a beautiful and layered work, Kim. There is a feeling of longing as this narrator dances in the bar with her friend, who feels like a sister, as the guy, the bouncer, who is almost a boyfriend, watches. The young narrator feels very wise to me. You capture a moment in the girl’s life that resonates. Can you talk a little about what brought you to this piece?
Thank you, Kath. A sense of longing inspired the piece. I was thinking of sisterhood and some of the close friendships I’ve had over the years. I wanted to celebrate that.

I love the first sentence of this: “She gave me her hips.” The oddness of this sentence is what makes it so beautiful and intriguing. And then followed by “Mine did their sway…” Was there a conscious decision to start with this or did it emerge organically from the writing? And then also, why “Hips” for the title?
I went back to read the original version, and I guess that’s how I started. I’m not sure why I started with that sentence. I just imagined two friends dancing and having fun on the platform and perhaps the hips signify a closeness between them—they, unlike the almost boyfriend have “hips.”

The first time I read this, I was astounded by how moving that last sentence felt, coming at the end of such a short piece. I’ve read it several times now and it never loses its power. You seem to have an intuitive genius for last sentences. What advice would you give a new writer who doesn’t quite have that intuition yet and is struggling with closings in their stories?
Thanks, Kath. That’s very generous of you. I struggle with endings. I think, in this one, I wanted it to emphasize the boom, and make it more internal for the narrator. I revise endings over and over and over. This one felt a little different to me, as I often like to leave the reader with an image. An ending, to me, is like saying goodbye, and if the reader’s made it that far, then it’s my duty to give it one last chance to sing.

About the Author:

Kim Chinquee is the author of Oh Baby and Pretty. She lives in Buffalo, New York and Viroqua, Wisconsin.

About the Interviewer:

Kathy Fish teaches for the Mile High MFA at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. She has published four collections of short fiction: a chapbook in the Rose Metal Press collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008); Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011); Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012); and Rift, co-authored with Robert Vaughan (Unknown Press, 2015). Three of her stories have been Best Small Fictions winners, most recently “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild,” chosen by Aimee Bender. Additionally, two of Fish’s stories will be featured in the upcoming W.W. Norton anthology, New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction.