Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sherman Alexie, Interviewed

With a new collection of short stories out, the Daily Beast chats with Sherman Alexie.

From the piece...

By now you are, I assume, used to being called an “Indian superstar.” What keeps you grounded?

Hey, I get called a “superstar,” as well as an “Indian superstar.” I get the adjective-free praise, as well! What keeps me grounded? I didn’t marry a fan. My sons aren’t interested in coming to my performances. My friends aren’t big fans, either. I haven’t made groups of friends based on our mutual writing careers. Most of my friendships center on basketball. So I guess you could say I stay centered in the midst of fame because I avoid people who care about my literary fame. I have ended newish friendships and professional relationships when I’ve discovered that my fame is a part of the attraction. What’s the best antidote for fame? The loving contempt of your friends and family.

Your newer stories are not as long as the earlier stories that first appeared in The New Yorker, like “What You Pawn I Will Redeem.” Some reflect your talent for the one-liner, like “The Human Comedy,” a six-word story you published in Narrative Magazine. Is there a reason you now favor briefer stories?

Though I have a reputation for being a Luddite, I actually love the new digital technology and its artistic possibilities. So I have certainly been writing very short stories because they look great on my iPad screen! It’s a callback to my early days of writing. I began my career on a manual typewriter and found that the physical act of pulling a sheet from the typewriter dictated the end of a poem. So I mostly wrote very short poems as a result. But when I moved to a word processor, my poems grew in length. And then I began to write stories and the beginnings of novels. The shape of the machine influences the shape of my work.

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