Smoking With Michael Meyers

by Nancy Stebbins Read the Story December 22, 2010

The wife wants the narrator to accept responsibility and, in the end, he does acknowledge fault. For what is he responsible? And why is he required to shoulder more blame than the other members of his family?

At the end of “Her New Friend,” although it’s too late, (the wife swallows the little yellow pill and flickers out) the narrator declares himself responsibility for everything, though h e knows, or hopes he knows that he isn’t. He just wants his wife to take a deep breath and say, “Now there, see how much better you feel having told me that,” then give him a semi-affectionate peck. If his wife can get a good night’s sleep and wake in a good mood he can do the same, or at least try.

The narrator says that the phrase, “At least there’s that,” is the closest they come to prayer. The daughter shows up with a boy named Jesus, “pronounced like God’s son.” What deeper meaning do these spiritual allusions lend to the story?

I tumble into story without an idea of where I’m headed. If on page three it becomes clear that all the action is happening on a train, I, too, am surprised, but grateful. I would like to claim a connection between “‘At least there’s that,’ is the closest they come to prayer,” and the boyfriend named Jesus, though I intended none.

I enjoyed reading about your writing process: it’s interesting how wonderful connections can be made unintentionally.

My dermatologist removed a nickle-sized nothing-to-be-worried-about from my chest. I now own a nickle-sized discoloration from which (and this is where I’m going) I got a title, the title being, “I Didn’t Know I Stopped One Until Anne Pointed Out The Hole In My shirt.” And from the title came the voice of the story, then the story.

I looked at your website and discovered that you are multi-talented: painting, performance art, and writing. How do you balance all of these things?

As an art maker lacking blinkers I became a lateralist. (I do not encourage this condition on those not afflicted). I do not, however, hold on to all the terms by which once I defined myself. Zones of art making fell away. For instance, I no longer am a painter, nor am I a performance artist and except for periodic adventures into video and sonic art (I put out a CD; Once Again Doctor Freud’s Horse Has Gone Missing) I write fiction, or try, and, fingers crossed hope to continue.

What project(s) are you working on now?

At the green grocers I placed my finished stories on the scale. I thought they weighed enough for a book though the green grocer, a nice looking gal, she wasn’t so sure.

About the Author:

Michael Meyers' short fiction appears in Quick Fiction, Work Riot, NANO, Bound Off, 2River, Chicago Noir, Chelsea, Fiction, The New Yorker and Eclectica, and is forthcoming in The 2nd Hand Journal and Required Journal. His audio works can he heard in Fringe, 2River, Mad Hatters Review and (forthcoming) in Drunken Boat. His videos can be viewed on Ninth Letter as well as on his web site, He has presented performance and theater works at MoMA, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Israel Museum, Tel Aviv Museum, Warsaw Institute of Contemporary Art, The Fringe of the Edinburgh Festival and others. An audio piece, "The Audio Encyclopedia of Personal Knowledge," was broadcast on NPR's "All Things Considered."

About the Interviewer:

Nancy Stebbins is a former editor at SmokeLong Quarterly.