The story reminds me of an expression I heard once: Americans are the only people who feel that happiness is guaranteed. Eddie seems like someone who sort of refuses to settle: no girl is good enough, no job is good enough, he can never just be a guy who sits on a train and talks football. In some ways that could be an admirable quality, but I would say it hinders him a bit. What do you feel Eddie’s biggest problem is?
He’d say his biggest problem is everything else. I say Eddie’s biggest problem is Eddie and that he actually knows this, but since he’s been unwilling to acknowledge this knowledge his problems have doubled which multiplied his awareness thus quadrupling the problems and so on, into infinitude. The math of it would get anybody down.
“Some guy with Eddie’s real last name raped Amy when she was just a baby.” You ask this question rhetorically, but I’ll ask you, what did this do to Eddie’s heart?
It’s a simple answer, but I’d rather The Reader never knew than give it away.
“Even when you’re doing something you love, life does what it does.” This is an awfully fascinating passage. Does Eddie love what he does? He doesn’t appear to be a guy who particularly loves anything, except maybe the hollow victory of being right every once in a while. Are you warning Eddie of things to come, or perhaps the reader about passing too much judgment on Eddie? Either way I would like to hear a bit more about this entire paragraph.
This paragraph is Eddie’s mini-manifesto, titled “Why Bother?” It’s his answer to a question I was once asked: Why are you not doing what you love? To answer the question honestly would have required action on Eddie’s part, so we get this instead.
(This and other stories were my response.)
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing background? Or just your background in general?
Writing Background: The first story I wrote was about a beaver. I was in second grade. I’m convinced I’ll never write another better. It’s lost now. From then I wrote stories until I was about twenty. There’s a six or seven year gap at this point. I wrote again for a while and then took another several years long break. And for the last fourteen months I write every day.
I entered two chapbook contests in December, and I’m almost set with a full-length collection for next year’s contests. So keep your fingers crossed.
There are no plans for future interruptions.
Background in General: I grew up in Illinois, in a city founded as a religious utopia. You can guess how that turned out. When I was eighteen I moved to Mississippi, where I worked for a short time in the factory where Eddie worked with Harvey and Mary. I’ve lived in Wisconsin for ten or twelve years.
Eddie seems to be an awfully identifiable character. Was he based on someone?
You know how you can take a piece of dust and if conditions are right, some moisture will stick to it and then eventually, if the rightness of those conditions persists, more of these particles will come together and you’ll have a cloud? I feel like, for me, characters develop similarly.
The same as clouds aren’t cotton, Eddie isn’t a person. You can’t touch him, but he can affect you. I think it’s because he’s made up of realness. Flecks and specks of whoever got caught up with some right conditions. I’m still in the process of figuring this all out.
Also, the cloud metaphor, if no one claims that in ninety days, I’m keeping it.
But to answer your question: No, Eddie isn’t based on someone. The real people in the story are Harvey, Mary, Betty and the two old guys on the train.