Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TCR Story of the Month for September: "Senator Max Baucus Leaves Five Tips" by Kelly Ramsey

Author Kelly Ramsey
The Committee Room is proud to present "Senator Max Baucus Leaves Five Tips" by Kelly Ramsey as TCR Story of the Month for September.

A highly original work of fiction using real life characters and skillfully manipulated visuals, "Senator Max Baucus Leaves Five Tips" grabs the attention with its brief but incisive look at politics, power, and personal relationships.

Kelly Ramsey's prose has appeared or is forthcoming in American Short Fiction, Orion, and The Material. This October she will be a fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

"Senator Max Baucus Leaves Five Tips" was published in Treehouse (7 August 2013).

To read "Senator Max Baucus Leaves Five Tips" click here.

TCR Story of the Month highlights an outstanding work of fiction published online within the preceding twelve months.

TCR Chats with Author Kelly Ramsey

Q: How long have you been writing?
A: At age twelve I wrote a story about an insect whose killer bite would freeze the body of its victims whole--like flash-freezing a fish. I presented the story to my mother in a black three-ring binder as a Christmas present. Festive. I only began writing seriously in college, where I studied poetry.  I'm a recent defector to prose.

Q: Where did you get the idea for "Senator Max Baucus Leaves Five Tips?"
A: I read an article somewhere, maybe the New York Times, about senators whose former aides were now employed as lobbyists for major corporations; Baucus was cited as having the greatest number of aides in such positions and for accepting tremendous campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies. So I started to read about Baucus, trying to find clues to who he was and why he'd be so deep in the pockets of these corporations. I guess I proceeded from a naive liberal indignance, something like, "Wait - but he's a Democrat! These are supposed to be the good guys." You can tell I don't read the news much. And what I found, of course, is that in Washington everyone has their hands in everyone else's pockets. Baucus isn't unique -- he's just one of the biggest offenders by dollar amount. But I also found these strange markers of his humanity and vulnerability, and found a fascinating and volatile character in his ex-wife, Wanda. I began from that point of curiosity (trying to find the human inside the public figure) and I don't think the story ever resolved or figured him out in any clear and final way; in that sense the story is like a fragment, a study, or an unanswered question.

Q: Who are some of your favorite classic authors?
A: I'm terrible at these questions - it depends on my mood and what I'm reading at the moment. Richard Brautigan is an all-time favorite. By varying definitions of "classic," I love: Emily Bronte, Joan Didion, F. Scott, Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Walker Percy, Carson McCullers, the poet Frank O'Hara.

Q: Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
A: Lydia Davis!  My hero. Deborah Eisenberg, Mary Gaitskill, Mary Robison, Denis Johnson, Kelly Link, Cormac McCarthy, poets Joshua Beckman and Charles Simic and anyone writing really good prose poems. Ben Lerner. Jennifer Egan. I read an amazing book last week by Howard Norman - The Bird Artist. I think it's also important to think about the literary magazines one reads, because often I'll read a piece by a so-called "unknown" contemporary writer that's more exciting to me than almost anything. Some magazines publishing actually daring work, in my opinion, include Black Warrior Review, Diagram, Booth, Gulf Coast, Hobart, Fence, Gigantic, American Short Fiction, and of course Treehouse. Among others.

Here's more information --

"Author Interview: An Introduction to Kelly Ramsey." American Short Fiction (2 January 2012).

The Committee Room.  Time Spent with TCR is Never Wasted.


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