Smoking With Randall Brown

by Beth Thomas Read the Story June 27, 2011

What was the inspiration/prompt for this story?

It was the idea that some wedding ceremonies begin with shattering — and all that might mean.

This story is so teensy. What drives you toward such brevity? Why do you love it? Is there anything you don’t love about it (brevity)?

I think what drives me toward brevity is the desire to say just a few things, hopefully the essential things — and then get out of the way. I love the way brevity forces you not to be wishy-washy about choices at the same time it embraces uncertainty. I don’t love that you cannot get a novel out of brevity.

How long does it take you to find just the right words? Were there any words or phrases you really struggled with? Can you give us examples of the evolution of a word or phrase from “ok” to “perfect”?

Oh, well, I’ve never gotten to perfect. I think I’m mostly in the okay range. “Wince” is defined by the OED as such: “To start or make an involuntary shrinking movement in consequence of or in order to avoid pain, or when alarmed or suddenly affected.” That seems like an okay word for that slot.

At one point, “it” will all come out. What is “it”? With the lack of remorse in the first sentence, and the word “fun” in the last sentence, this can be read as purposeful on the part of the narrator. Is he a bad guy?

I think the narrator is also wondering to what the “it” refers. I don’t think he meant to shatter the foot, but once it happened, the aftermath has him quite enthralled. Does it make him a bad guy? I think he’s ready to accept whatever it is that will come out, so in that way, maybe he’s not so bad.

What have you been up to lately? What are your current passion projects?

I’m busy directing the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Rosemont College, and that is my passion right now. I really do love working with writers and being part of their development. It’s just really, really fun and rewarding.

About the Author:

Randall Brown is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. He has been published widely, both online and in print. He earned his MFA at Vermont College.