|Illustration by Jay Duret|
In "Ordinary Life," a brief story full of wry wit, an older man attempts to impart wisdom to a younger man.
Jay Duret is a San Francisco based writer who blogs at www.jayduret.com. His writing has been published in many online and print journals.
"Ordinary Life" was published in The Citron Review (Spring 2013).
To read "Ordinary Life" click here
TCR Story of the Month highlights an outstanding work of fiction published online within the preceding twelve months.
A: I have been writing as far back as I remember, beginning with stories that had a loud narrative voice and Ta-Dah! endings complete with a big reveal - I wanted my readers to be stunned and amazed when they read the last line - and over many years going full circle to fiction and cnf that has all the important stuff in the dialogue and the little business going on around the speakers. There is a Salinger story where a 8-year boy is trying to break into a conversation that his mother is having with one of her girlfriends. The women are drinking and smoking and wrapped up in trading gossip. They have no time for interruption. At one point the boy takes a single burnt match out of the ashtray, holds it up and says, "Mother, may I have this?" That one line reveals so much more than the big endings I used to chase.
Q: Where did you get the idea for "Ordinary Life?"
A: I live in San Francisco, a great city for eavesdropping. One day in the locker room at the gym I heard a fellow saying to his friend something about how he wanted to have an extraordinary life. There was something delightfully incongruous about the conversation - all around them were sweaty towels and beefy half naked men grooming themselves - that I leaned in to hear more. At times their voices tailed off and I had to imagine parts of it for them.
Q: Who are some of your favorite classic authors?
A: I came up reading black humor and American novelists like Barth and Pynchon as well as magic realists like Isabel Allende and Jorge Amado and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. For dialogue I read Phillip Roth. I always loved John Cheever. But as much as I liked fiction, I liked reading writers that made non-fiction come alive - the gonzo journalists, for sure, and David Foster Wallace, but also the sober and steady ones - Tracy Kidder, Joan Didion, John McPhee. I probably have spent more time reading and rereading T.S. Eliot's "The Four Quartets" than any single book of fiction.
Q: Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
A: I like David Eggers, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen. I confess that I love and can never find enough of what I call "High B" fiction - not exactly literary fiction but strong writing that drives a story hard, writers like Kem Nunn and Victor LaValle. There is interesting work being done in very small spaces - micro and flash - that is creating a new body of literature that I find compelling.
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