A well-told tale of an infatuated youth challenged by reality during a "meet the parents" visit to Colombia, "Something Like Culture Shock" is a witty and observant take on cultural differences.
Dennis Vanvick is a retired, self-employed technical consultant. He winters among the eight-million inhabitants of Bogota, Colombia and summers amongst the flora and fauna of northwest Wisconsin. His fiction has appeared in Rosebud, NOÖ Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, The Humanist, Flashquake, Clockwise Cat, Gold Dust, Birmingham Arts Journal, and Wilderness House Literary Review.
"Something Like Culture Shock" was published in Lowestoft Chronicle (Issue 10, Summer 2012).
To read "Something Like Culture Shock" click here
TCR Story of the Month highlights an outstanding work of fiction published online within the preceding twelve months.
TCR Talks with Dennis Vanvick
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I have been writing fiction since 1997, after taking a creative writing course at the University of Minnesota, which served as an antidote to divorce. The most valuable advice picked up at the course was "Start." So I did, although – due to procrastination - it took a couple of years to actually do so.
A: My wife is Colombian and I therefore spend much of the year in Bogota, so the story is definitely autobiographical. The description of the Bogota street scene is quite accurate, including the pathetic “pajama man” and his petty thievery. The country club scene is also accurately drawn. Where the story veers sharply from reality is in character development. Let me make this unequivocally clear - or my wife will be angry with me - the characters described in this story resemble no person in her family, extended or nuclear, or her circle of friends, real or imagined. In fact, I am very fond of her father and mother and her entire family and her friends. Also, for the same reasons, let me say that I have a particularly high regard for Colombia and believe that the most valuable resource is the citizenry. Colombian people are warm, social, family oriented, and humor is always within easy reach.
Q: Who are some of your favorite classic authors?
A: Ernest Hemingway: Difficult, tortured. He lived through war injuries, his father’s suicide, electric shock treatments, four marriages, two plane crashes, and countless bottles of chianti, rum, gin, and other adult beverages to become the greatest American writer. My favorites: A Farewell To Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Saul Bellow: The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog. Other authors I like are Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Norman Mailer, Raymond Carver.
Q: Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
A: Tom Wolfe: Love his dissection of the American male’s ego in A Man in Full. His depiction of Captain Charlie – a sixty year old with a very young wife – shows the pain inflicted when you finally get what you absolutely could not live without. Unforgettable. I also enjoyed Bonfire Of The Vanities. Joyce Carol Oates: Anyone who can hook me into reading a tome about Marilyn Monroe must be a compelling writer and she is. I suspect that her writing can make any topic fascinating. I am currently reading A Grave Digger’s Daughter. Philip Roth: Sometimes hilarious, always clever. Favorites: Goodbye Columbus, When She Was Good. Garrison Keillor: Great humor. Favorite: Lake Woebegone Boy.
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