Zen for Ten 34: The Coaster

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Here’s some new listening to help usher in the New Year. For today’s post, I’m delighted to welcome my friend and colleague Susan Ingram. Susan is a fellow Baltimore writer; she and I studied together in the Johns Hopkins MA program in fiction, and she is a short-story writer, novelist, and memoirist.

“The Coaster,” her story featured in this post, is a beautiful short piece about the passage of time and the challenges of letting go of the past. Susan writes, “This story came to me with one line and an image. I woke up one morning with the line ‘Animals weren’t allowed on the coaster,’ and the image of a little dog’s face clear in my mind.” Out of this, she created a piece about “the parallel melancholy feelings of how the end of summer felt as a kid, when it was time to go back to school, and the feelings as I age of that carefree/discovery/exciting time of life being gone.

I’ve paired “The Coaster” with two movements of Maurice Ravel’s Ma Mere L’Oye, Mother Goose Suite, which folks who’ve followed this blog know is one of my favorite pieces (and inspired my novel To Love A Stranger). I’ve used the first movement, “Sleeping Beauty’s Pavane,” and the third, “Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas.”

Susan’s writing, with its gentle and poetic repetition of certain key lines, and its vivid imagery and evocation of childhood, needed music with a similar poetic flavor. I felt that the simplicity and rich colors of Ravel’s music, along with the tribute to childhood in Ma Mere L’Oye, made it a terrific pairing for “The Coaster.”
Enjoy the video and learn more below about Susan and her writing. As always, thank you for visiting the blog!
About Susan:
Susan Ingram headshot
Susan Ingram has a background as a long-time film industry camera assistant and subsequently a long-time weekly news journalist. Stories from her novel The Troubled Times, which draws on her experiences in the journalism world, have been honored as finalists in Glimmer Train literary magazine’s competitions. Her short story “Three Little Things,” an excerpt from her memoir-in-progress Film/Addict, was a Glimmer Train Top 25 awardee. A longer selection from the memoir was published recently in So To Speak literary journal of George Mason University. Susan’s fiction has been published in Dime Show Review, Sick Lit, Jersey Devil Press and Seltzerzine.  She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and lives near Baltimore. Visit her online at www.newzcook.wordpress.com and on Twitter at @newzcook.

Writers! Would you like to contribute your work for the Storytelling and Sound series? (You provide the words, I provide the live reading and the music.) Email me at kris@krisfaatz.com for info.

Readers! Like what you see here? Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.

Storytelling and Sound fans: if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to check out music-inspired To Love A Stranger!

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Zen for Ten 33: The Hit

After a longer-than-expected hiatus, Storytelling and Sound is back! Today’s guest is my friend and colleague Tom Andes, with whom I was in workshop twice at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshops. Tom is an outstanding writer and workshop mate, and I’m delighted to feature his work today.

Tom’s writing blends crime fiction with a rich, descriptive literary style that gets the reader inside his characters’ minds and immerses us in the settings he creates. Today’s post features an excerpt of his short story “The Hit,” which first appeared in Xavier Review and was reprinted in Best American Mystery Stories 2012 and Great Jones Street.

“The Hit” gave me a bit of a challenge in terms of finding the right musical pairing. I went into video-making mode with one soundtrack in mind, and decided within a couple of minutes that my idea wasn’t going to work. The music had to have the right quality of tension and darkness to fit with Tom’s writing, but at the same time, it had to allow for give-and-take with the story and had to match the lyricism as well as the forward drive of the narrative.

Ultimately, I settled on two preludes by Dmitri Shostakovich, a twentieth-century composer with a fascinating story of his own. Shostakovich spent his life in Soviet Russia, under Stalin’s rule. He was held up by the government as an iconic representative of Soviet art and culture, but at the same time, was considered suspect and potentially dangerous throughout his career. Artists and intellectuals were believed to be dangerously “Western” in their ideas, and their ability to connect with large numbers of people, and therefore potentially initiate rebellion, made them frightening to Stalin’s paranoid mind. Shostakovich lived in an atmosphere of impending danger, always half-expecting to be arrested, and had a packed suitcase ready in case he had to run.

The two preludes in the video, No. 14 in E flat minor and No. 10 in C sharp minor, both exemplify the darkness and uneasiness in which Shostakovich lived. In both, though, there are also moments of great lyricism and beauty. This mix of light and shadow made them, I felt, a perfect musical pairing for Tom’s work.

Enjoy the video and learn more below about Tom and his writing. To read the complete “The Hit,” which I highly recommend, visit Great Jones Street and sign up for an account. As always, thank you for visiting the blog!

 

About Tom:

Tom Andes headshot

Tom Andes’ writing has recently appeared in Great Jones StreetFree State Review, and Guernica: A Magazine of Global Arts and Politics, and was anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories 2012. Reviews and interviews with writers and musicians have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives in New Orleans, where he makes a living as a freelance writer and editor, plays music, and teaches for the New Orleans Writers Workshop, which he co-founded. You can find more at tomandes.com.

 

Writers! Would you like to contribute your work for the Storytelling and Sound series? (You provide the words, I provide the live reading and the music.) Email me at kris@krisfaatz.com for info.

Readers! Like what you see here? Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.

Storytelling and Sound fans: if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to check out music-inspired To Love A Stranger!