The fantastic New York-based BOMB magazine, which has been publishing conversations between the day’s most exciting artists since 1981, recently featured an interview with New Orleans’ own Michael Jeffrey Lee, author of Something in My Eye. Lee, who is currently at work on a novel, celebrated the launch of Something in My Eye with a reading as part of Room 220‘s LIVE PROSE series last spring.
The BOMB interview was conducted by Catherine Lacey, a Mississipi native who lived in New Orleans from 2006 – 2010 while attending Loyola University New Orleans. Her writing has appeared in The Believer and The Atlantic, among other places. She is a co-founder and current co-owner of 3B Brooklyn, a bed and breakfast run by creative wunderkinds in downtown Brooklyn.
From the BOMB interview:
CL There are types of characters in your collection that aren’t typically seen in the average contemporary short story. Was that on purpose or do you find yourself gravitating to those kinds of voices?
MJL Oh, those were the voices I wanted; I wrote them because they didn’t immediately bore me or anger me the way that most do. I was in not the best shape through much of the writing of that book, and I was deeply suspicious of any attempt at sincerity on the page. From myself, anyway. Every time I sat down to write a “realistic” story during this period I would just start laughing: “John went to the store when he should have just gone home,” or something like that. The faith one has to have in the world to write a sentence like that! What a joke!
CL Image, voice or narrative—which do you find yourself inspired by most often?
MJL I was going to answer voice, voice all the way, without a doubt, but then I remembered that more than one of the tales was shaped by something I once saw while riding a train from Alabama to Georgia: three ragged people sitting on a couch, which sat on a riverbank, in the shadow of an overpass, passing a brown jug back and forth and conversing with each other very politely, as if what they were doing was the most normal thing in the world. Also the dwarf from the last story, he was someone who used to pass my stoop in New Orleans every morning on his way to the bar. In those cases I guess the image pierced me and provided the spark for the voice.
Read the full interview at BOMB.