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Smoking With Dennis Mahagin

Interview by Beth Thomas (Read the Story) December 21, 2009

Dennis Mahagin

mask of smoke by Julian Schwarze

Is Cory someone you know? Someone real?

Nah, Cory is a pure amalgam of my imagination.

There are themes here of cutting losses, letting go, and things that are broken… trying to get back something that is lost. Are these themes something you set out to write about, or are they what came about organically through the telling of Cory’s story?

In this piece, theme takes a backseat to narrative. Theme becomes a by-product of narrative. I was trying to nail the character of Cory, first. I love your use of the word “organically” because it implies a kind of
taproot, to the unconscious. Writing is most thrilling for me, when suffused with these organic elements.

Who is the ignorant man in the library? How do you think he comes out?

The ignorant man is me, the author of the story. He’s a kind of ghost character. He’s sort of present, and then again, not. As a purgatorial observer, he makes out alright. It’s implied that he’ll carry on, to tell more stories.

What did Cory see in Iraq? Do we want to know? Deserve to know?

Whatever he saw, it changed him utterly. It made him “not lithe” anymore. Cory is a window upon Iraq, upon war at large, but it’s “through a glass darkly.” That’s as it should be, I think. As readers, we probably ought not want, nor even deserve, explicitness in this regard, because then the mystery is lost, to overkill, the story turning upon itself, becoming “not lithe.”

How did you decide on the title “Greenback Fly”?

The title came first. I kinda stole it from a rock band I admire, called “Southern Culture On The Skids.” I hope those musicians are not pissed off at me! I was listening to a S.C.O.T.S. compact disc, in fact, as I composed the first draft draft of this story. It’s possible that the fiction was charged entirely out of the awesome music. Organic, indeed. 🙂

About the Author

Dennis Mahagin is a poet and writer from Washington state. His work appears in publications such as 3 A.M., 42opus, Underground Voices, FRiGG, Stirring, Mannequin Envy, Absinthe Literary Review, Juked, Keyhole, Exquisite Corpse, Zygote In My Coffee, and Thieves Jargon. An electronic chapbook of his poetry, entitled Divertimento, appears online in the current issue of Slow Trains literary magazine. A debut print collection of his poems, entitled Grand Mal, is forthcoming from Rebel Satori Press. Visit Dennis on the web at: http://fourhourhardon.blogspot.com.

About the Interviewer

Beth Thomas is originally from New Mexico but currently lives in California due to military relocation. She works as a technical writer in the aerospace/defense industry—don’t ask what she writes about ’cause she can’t really tell you. She has a BA and an MA in writerly things from New Mexico universities. Her work has recently appeared in Pindeldyboz Online, SmokeLong Quarterly, Juked, Word Riot, and other places.

About the Artist

Julian Schwarze, born on May 12, 1989 in Frankfurt / Main, studied product design at the University of Art and Design Offenbach, graduated in 2015 and is currently a research associate and PhD student in project-mo.de with a focus on mobility design. His doctoral thesis deals with system transitions in mobility spaces and their user-centered design. During his studies he completed internships in design offices in the Netherlands and Hamburg. The main focus was on  brand- and user-centered design of industrial products, everyday products and packaging.

This interview appeared in Issue Twenty-Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Seven
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