Jerry Wilson is an American short story writer. His latest collection is A Kind Of Kaddish, published by Leaky Boot Press.
What is your earliest reading memory?
I learned to read in first grade, the primer being a book called, I think, the Little Red Reader, which was followed by green and blue readers. The other big read at the time was a book about Dick, Jane and a dog called Spot.
Has writing been a conscious choice or a natural thing for you?
Definitely a conscious choice. Writing doesn't come natural for me.
Do you have any special habits or rituals when you write?
Well, first of all the house has to be tidy if I am to get anything done. While, writing I have a particular playlist I listen to. It starts out with “Frederick” by Patti Smith. Nostalgia stuff.
Do you choose your stories or do the stories choose you?
I guess the stories choose me.
What national books/authors do you enjoy re-reading and why?
For the most part I read nonfiction and it doesn't matter what nationality the author is as long as the book is translated into English. I recently reread Blood on the Water, a book about the Attica Prison uprising. I need to know what happens to people.
What foreign books/authors do you enjoy re-reading and why?
The foreign book I constantly look at is Finnegans’ Wake. After close to 40 years of "reading" I can't say I understand the book at all but looking at all those weird words does something positive for my psyche. I feel better. I get sounds and colors and impressions without anyone forcing a narrative on me. Like non programmatic music.
What is so important about fiction?
The unique individual subversion of the dominant narrative.
Flaubert says he was physically sick when he wrote Emma Bovary’s death. Are you empathetic with your characters?
I do a lot of laughing with them. They're friends of mine.
What is your ideal reader?
I can't imagine there being any such thing. I'm often surprised at the readers who actually enjoy my stuff. They're usually the people I predicted would hate it. The readers that I think might like it, well...
Should writers be embraced by society or should they be exiled?
Exiled. Societies are necessarily homogeneous, cruel and dull. The lowest common denominator. Doesn't make for interesting writing.
Is there a God or are there gods for writers?
There are no gods though I'm careful not to mock them.
What makes a writer a writer?
As a rule, writers don't think of themselves as such.
Tell us about your fiction.
I write short fiction about the damned. The elect don't interest me.
What is the purpose of your writing?
To feel less lonely. It doesn't work.
How do you really feel about recognition and fame? Are you a satisfied mind or always craving for more?
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." Samuel Johnson