From Editor Chris Fischbach:
Garner: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Text
Oh, I love this book. I’m glad you love it too. But I gather that some readers have been frustrated with what they see as a lack of definite closure, or explanation, in Garner. I won’t lie to you. I was too. But now I’m not.
Maybe I should reveal all the secret correspondences that Kirstin and I had about what actually happened? Sorry, no can do. I’m sworn to secrecy.
Actually, as an editor of experimental fiction and poetry, I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t supposed to get wrapped up in plot and story, and that I wasn’t supposed to care who actually did it, right? How bourgeois? I was supposed to enjoy the journey, or revel in the postmodern inexplicability of it all? Sure, rationally, I could do that, but like everyone else, I secretly wanted to know, and suspected that behind the text, in the notes, or in the margins somewhere, I could find out the truth.
It’s an editor’s dilemma in the same way that it’s a reader’s. I figured I could get Kirstin on the phone and say, “Come on, between us, what happened, really?” I won’t tell you what she said, but I can say that she and I did work to make the text more, let’s say, interpretable. There’s enough there, trust me. But it’s not a puzzle. That’s my hint. Try to stop worrying about it and love the text.
The acquisition of the book happened in a very old-fashioned manner, and it’s how I’ve found nearly all of my favorite acquisitions. The manuscript came in unsolicited, sent to us because Kirstin admired our list, and I picked it up, read it straight through, loved it, and we accepted it as soon as possible after that. Like much of the fiction we publish, Garner had, first and foremost, a stylistic boldness and confidence, a kind of rough-hewn beauty, that is the first thing you notice. Secondly, its narrative structure was adventurous and original, formally. If you look elsewhere on our list, you’ll find other authors whose books share these traits: Gilbert Sorrentino, Laird Hunt, Norah Labiner, Selah Saterstrom, Karen Yamashita, Paul Metcalf, Mary Caponegro, and others. I’m always looking for bold, innovative fiction, and I love the slush pile.
Having worked with both Paul Metcalf and Selah Saterstrom, both of whom use white space and collage exceptionally well, I was also drawn to Garner for Kirstin’s expert use of white space and typography. We spent a lot of time making sure that the spacing, indents, dingbats, type size, and so on, gave the reader subtle yet effective cues and clues as to how to navigate the narrative weaving that can sometimes be difficult for readers. I’m very pleased with the result, and the book itself is a beautiful object, great to hold in your hands, and, I think, very pleasing to the eye. We’re very proud of it. I hope this helps it get the recognition it deserves.
From Publicist Lauren Snyder:
My mother is a Vermonter, her parents very staunch and unemotional life-long New Englanders. So when I was reading Garner for the first time, I was nodding and shaking my head, knowing instantly these people that populate this small, secular New England town. What blows me away about Kirstin’s writing is that she is able to convey this mentality so beautifully to all readers, even those without direct knowledge of the New England sensibility. And she does it without making the Garner townsfolk seem like cardboard cutouts or inhuman stereotypes. Kirstin’s skill is in making us see below the surface of each character to feel the complexity of emotion and motivation behind their unwavering exteriors. Her inclusion here and her recent appearance at the New Voices weekend hosted by Misty Valley Booksellers in Chester, VT, along with warm receptions at Toadstool in Peterborough, NH, Brown Bookstore and the Providence Athenaeum in Rhode Island and great reviews in The Believer, The Chicago Tribune, and a number of other publications tell me that others are taking note of her talent, as well.
Okay, Chris and I can answer any questions you wish to pose.
Last, but certainly not least, many thanks to the LBC for choosing Garner as the Read This! pick. And, of course, special thanks to Dan Wickett who has championed this book from the very beginning. Let the questions begin!