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Smoking With Ron Carlson

Interview by Brandon Wicks (Read the Story) June 25, 2013

Ron Carlson

art by Alexander C. Kafka

Tell us how this story took shape.

Every day the news challenges our ability to believe what is happening. I want to put shoes on a notion and let it walk around; I’ve always done it with my short pieces going back to “Bigfoot Stole My Wife.” Let someone start talking and then follow closely.

The deadpan sincerity of the narrator is both hilarious and a bit endearing. How difficult is it to achieve that balanced tone? Is it a mode you find yourself naturally writing in, or does it require substantial revision?

You get it in the groove or you don’t. Sometimes it takes two or three sentences and you find yourself listening to find out who is speaking. You try to sit in every chair, consider every element of such a large transition as seceding.

How do you imagine the future will pan out for the Gundersons / Gundersonia?

As we all know, running a country is a lot of trouble.

What do you think is the best way to negotiate “border control” with neighbors?

Of course, you’re going to need treaties aplenty, and you’re going to be ceaselessly vigilant.

About the Author

Ron Carlson’s new novel (Summer ’13) is Return to Oakpine. His book of poems is Room Service. He teaches writing at the University of California, Irvine.

About the Interviewer

Brandon Wicks is the associate editor for special projects at SmokeLong Quarterly. He is a freelance writer and illustrator based in Philadelphia. His debut novel, American Fallout, will be published by Santa Fe Writers Project in 2016. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Pembroke Magazine, Potomac Review, Sou’wester, and other journals.

About the Artist

Alexander C. Kafka is a journalist, photographer, and composer in Bethesda, Maryland. He created the cover image for Lost Addresses: New and Selected Poems by Diann Blakely (Salmon Poetry, 2017). His work has also been published at All Things Fashion DC, BuzzFeed, Fast Company, Juked, Vice, The Washington Post, The Writing Disorder, and many other periodicals. He has been on the documentation team for the Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo and is a contributing concert photographer for DMNDR. Kafka studied fine-art figure photography with Missy Loewe at the Washington School of Photography and portrait photography with Sora DeVore at Glen Echo Photoworks.

This interview appeared in Issue Forty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.