Tag Archives: Fiction

Between Memory and Forgetting: An Interview with Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes

Photograph by Brittainy Lauback

Photograph by Brittainy Lauback

I’m lucky to have known Gabrille Lucille Fuentes for several years now– we both live in Athens, GA and attend the same PhD program, and we co-curate a reading series together at our local indie bookstore. The first time I got to hear Gabrielle read her work aloud I was spellbound– not only was her prose riveting, but her ability to embody the work as she read it made for a thrilling listening experience. I knew she was a serious workhorse when it came to writing– working on several novels at once, and more diligently than most writers I know– and brilliant to boot, so it would only be a matter of time before her work began to enter world as books. Fuentes’ first novel, The Sleeping World, is out tomorrow (9/13) from Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, and it is ferocious, a book hot with searching and loss, tension thrumming constantly at the periphery. Per the jacket copy:

“Casasrojas, Spain, 1977. Military rule is over. Bootleg punk music oozes out of illegal basement bars and fascists fight anarchists for political control. Students perform protest art in the city center, rioting against the old government, the undecided new order, against the university, against themselves. At the center is Mosca, an intelligent, disillusioned university student, whose younger brother is among ‘the disappeared,’ kidnapped by fascist police, missing for two years, and presumed dead. Spurred by the turmoil around them, Mosca and her friends carry their rebellion too far and a violent act sends them spiraling out of their provincial hometown. But the further they go, the more Mosca believes her brother is alive and the more she is willing to do anything to find him.”

You can feel this novel in your bones– when the characters are sore and tired, sweatily roaming through Spain and France, your body meets the book in feeling. I was excited to ask Fuentes some questions about her writing process, the seeds of the book, and much more.

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes is a writer and teacher. Her first novel, The Sleeping World, will be published by Touchstone  (Simon & Schuster) in 2016.  She has received fellowships from Yaddo and Blue Mountain Arts Center and was a Bernard O’Keefe Scholar in Fiction at Bread Loaf. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in One Story, Slice, Pank, The Collagist, Tweed’s, NANO Fiction, Western Humanities Review, The YokeSpringGun, and elsewhere.

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Gina Abelkop: What and when were the first seeds of this novel planted? Where were you living? Did it begin with a plot, character, or an emotional impluse?

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes: Song lyrics often start stories for me. I’ll become obsessed with a song—especially one with a scrap of narrative and want to enter into the world of the song through my writing. Or the song will provide entry into a world I’ve carried but didn’t yet have access to. The Sleeping World began as a short story I wrote while listening to The National’s song “Runaway.” I was living in Boulder, Colorado and had just started my MFA. Boulder is a surreal town—it’s surrounded by gorgeous mountains but the town itself like a play-land created by Patagonia and Disney. Very new, very expensive, very white. The initial story came quickly, transported by a few of the lyrics. I wanted to communicate a tension between forgetting and memory, and when I went back to the story, I found that I was writing my own, despite the distance between me and the narrative. My brother had recently passed away and writing was a way for me to grieve, to speak to the dead and carry him with me in the living world.

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It’s Kinda Creepy Because I Am: An Interview with Myriam Gurba

Myriam Gurba

When I read Myriam Gurba’s Painting Their Portraits in Winter last year I got that special book-soul-mate feeling that the best books give you, a sense that someone really GETS you, and the universe. Because I can never love anything without going full fangirl, I knew I had to reach out to Myriam for an interview, which– lucky you!– you get read below.

Myriam Gurba, Ms. Gurba, if you’re nasty, is a native Santa Marian. She attended U.C. Berkeley thanks to affirmative action. She is the author of two short story collections, Dahlia Season and Painting Their Portraits in Winter. Dahlia Season won the Edmund White Award, which is given to queer writers for outstanding debut fiction. The book was also shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award. Gurba is also the author of two poetry collections, Wish You Were Me and Sweatsuits of the Damned. She has toured North America twice with avant-garde literary and performance troupe Sister Spit. Gurba’s other writing can be found in places such as Entropy.com, TIME.com, and Lesfigues.com. She creates digital and photographic art that has been exhibited at galleries and museums.


Gina Abelkop: My first question has to be about one of my favorite things about your writing: your sense of humor. It’s silly, smart, biting, and joyful even in stories and poems that are emotionally taut. How and on what teeth was this sense of humor cut? Who are some of your favorite humorists and what is it that you love about their humor and/or work?

Myriam Gurba: My sense of humor was primarily sculpted by the sickest people I know: HELLO MOM AND DAD. My dad likes to joke about the horrific, like free-range children and customer service, and by example, he taught me that these are the things you are supposed to laugh about. My mom is different. She’s more elf than human. She doesn’t say funny things; she says things funny. For example, she’ll tell a story about getting into a car accident but she’ll refer to her car as her mystique since she actually drives a Mercury Mystique and her story will take on this exciting, Daliesque quality because imagine a normal conversation about a car accident but replace the word car with mystique. My parents, however, aren’t into queef jokes. In fact, I’m not even sure they could name a queef though I’m certain they’re familiar with the sound. In high school, I was socially attracted to girls who got accused of being unfeminine since they were funny and gross and so they shaped me, too. Boys accused me of not being feminine and of having too big of lips. My favorite funny people are people I know. My boyfriend makes me giggle. When I have low blood sugar and am surrounded by whites, everything gets hilarious. I appreciate humor that is gross, goofy, self-conscious, and, above all, humiliating. As far as publicly funny people go, I like Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Cardi B, Kristen Wiig pretending to be Bjork, Peter Sellers, Cheech Marin, Chris Rock and angry teenagers.

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On Breaking the Bad Bitch Archetype in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child


It isn’t difficult to notice the similarity between the title of Toni Morrison’s latest novel, God Help the Child, and the famous tune sung by Billie Holiday, “God Bless the Child.” Holiday’s tune speaks measures to how we see and treat vulnerable members of our society. It contains a problematic message about who is deserving of help. As the song goes: “God bless the child that’s got his own….”

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