From Fiction

WISH YOU WERE HERE by Claire Vaye Watkins: An Excerpt

by Claire Vaye Watkins It begins with a man and a woman. They are young, but not so young as they would like. They fall in love. They marry. They concieve a child.They buy an adobe house in a small town where all the houses are adobe. The McDonald’s is adobe. The young man is named Carter. Carter often points to the adobe McDonald’s as proof of what a good decision they made in moving away from the city. The woman, Marin, is also glad they’ve moved here, but she misses her friends, and the constant sound of city traffic…

Total Absorption and Abandon in LAMB: An interview with debut novelist Bonnie Nadzam

by Conor Broughan, Fiction Editor Bonnie Nadzam was born in Cleveland, went to high school in suburban Chicago, and has moved continually westward since then. She studied English literature and environmental studies at Carleton College, and earned an MA and PhD from the University of Southern California. Her fiction and poetry have been published in The Kenyon Review, The Mississippi Review, Story Quarterly, Callaloo, The Alaska Quarterly Review, and others. She taught at Colorado College, where she served for two years as the Daehler Fellowin Creative Writing. She is married to her childhood love and lives with him in the…

THE DUCK: an excerpt of the 2011 Wabash Fiction Prize story

by Joe B. Sills Little by little I am entering into a fantastic world. -Chekhov The first snow of winter falls on The Taganrog Gymnasium for Boys.  Students exit from a wide doorway, each of them uniformed in a dark blue tunic with a long row of copper buttons.  A first-grader removes his cloak and sits on it, then demands that someone pull him.  An icicle is plucked from the corner of a windowsill, is sucked on, stolen, and hurled at a sparrow.  The Greek instructor removes half a sausage from his pocket and inspects it.  He gives it a…

ITEMS FOR EXCHANGE: Excerpt and Author Response

Conor Broughan, Fiction Editor Many readers of Sycamore Review are also writers. So we wanted to pose a few craft questions to contributor Naomi Williams that might illuminate her process and techniques when writing “Items for Exchange” which can be read in its entirety in Issue 23.2-Summer/Fall 2011. *** by Naomi J. Williams PLAUSIBILITY He always forgets how unpleasant the crossing from Calais is. He has never once made the trip that there wasn’t inclement weather, contrary winds and tides, unexplained delays, seasick fellow-travelers, surly packet captains, or dishonest boatmen waiting to extort the passengers ashore. This time it is…

YOU ARE THE GREATEST LAKE: An excerpt and author response

Many readers of Sycamore Review are also writers. So we wanted to pose a few craft questions to contributor Greg Schutz that might illuminate his process and techniques when writing his story “You are the Greatest Lake” which can be read in its entirety in Issue 23.1-Winter/Spring 2011. *** BY GREG SCHUTZ The next day is Sunday, the end of our long weekend on the shore, and Dot wants to fish. After breakfast, John finds a small rod for her and ties a golden hook to the end of the line. The knot he uses is a complicated, twisting thing,…

The Audio Files: An Interview with Julia Story and Jessica Anthony

Novelist Jessica Anthony, author of The Convalescent, and poet Julia Story, author of Post Moxie, are two up-and-coming writers who have both recently published their first books. They sat down with Purdue University’s Visiting Writers Series Coordinator Kristin Griffin and Assistant Director of Creative Writing Jessica Farquhar before a live audience in October to discuss their craft and their first-time experiences with the publishing process. You can click on the following links to listen to audio clips from the conversation. A complete transcript follows. Julia Story earned graduate degrees in creative writing from the University of New Hampshire and Indiana…

Jim Shepard’s Version of Stretching Exercises: An Interview

BY CONOR BROUGHAN Jim Shepard’s new collection of short stories You Think That’s Bad was recently published and Mr. Shepard was kind of enough to take the time to respond to our questions about his new book over email. Be sure to read the full review of You Think That’s Bad in the Reviews section of the website. Jim Shepard is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X, and four story collections, including most recently Like You’d Understand, Anyway, which was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Story Prize, and You Think That’s Bad,…

Candy Necklace: An Excerpt and Author Response

BY JIM DANIELS Many readers of Sycamore Review are also writers. So we wanted to pose a few craft questions to contributor Jim Ray Daniels that might illuminate his process and techniques when writing his heartbreaking story “Candy Necklace” which can be read in its entirety in Issue 23.1-Winter/Spring 2011. Shelley bit another hard, tasteless bead off of her candy necklace. A yellow one. It tasted just like a green or red one. The flimsy elastic holding it together stretched across her mouth. Then, she bit off a red one—pink, really—and pulled the necklace back down over her neck. Sticky…

Your Guide to Painting With Radium: An Excerpt and Craft Response

BY SUSAN FRITH Many readers of Sycamore Review are also writers. So we wanted to pose a few craft questions to Susan Frith that might illuminate her process and techniques when writing her beautiful story “Your Guide to Painting with Radium” which can be read in its entirety in Issue 23.1-Winter/Spring 2011. First, consider your other options. Silent Cal is in the White House and you’re a girl just out of high school in Ottawa, Illinois. This will limit you, but there are a few possibilities in town. Do you have short arms? Then you cannot be a switchboard operator.…

The Audio Files: An Interview with Samrat Upadhyay

Samrat Upadhyay sat down with Sycamore Review’s Anthony Cook for an interview before a live audience at Purdue University in September. You can click on the following links to listen to audio clips from the conversation. A complete transcript of the interview follows. Clip 1: Outlines & Superstitions Clip 2: Short Stories vs. Novels Clip 3: Exoticization & Paralysis Clip 4: Writer’s Block: Emptiness is Capacity Clip 5: Revision: Boil it Down Clip 6: Translating Dialogue SAMRAT UPADHYAY was born and raised in Nepal. He is the author of four books: Arresting God in Kathmandu, a collection of stories and…