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Monday, December 19, 2011

Contributor Spotlight: Zana Previti

An inclination I was never able to explain: if I see a copy of a book I love on sale, I instinctively reach my hand out to take it off the shelf and buy it, even if I own multiple copies of that selfsame book at home. Today I almost bought two different editions of Cather’s The Song of the Lark for five dollars each. I quelled the impulse, but only because I am broke. If I had money, and lots of it, there's really no telling how many copies of the book I would own. Poor as I am, I think I'm near the vicinity of four or so. I keep tripping over copies of Love in the Time of Cholera (one is in Spanish, a language I spoke briefly and brokenly in college). I admit to owning seven different copies of Jane Eyre. I don't know how I have so many. They just accumulate. I never get rid of them, of course. I love them.
An inclination I was never able to explain: breaking things up into small chunks and arranging them into a sequence without any attempt at explicit transition. In the most recent HFR, #49, my short piece “Sasha” appears as a series of paragraph-long vignettes (miniature portraits?) of an imaginary physicist-cum-baby brother. Why did you do it this way? I ask myself sometimes, looking dismally down at a final draft. And probably, the answer is that I really, really love that white space, and the possibilities it creates. What happened in between? One of the best, most endearing love letters I have ever seen was scrawled, seriatim, on all fifty-two of a deck of cards. It was brilliant.
An inclination I was never able to explain: writing love letters to people I cannot know. Most of the stories I write – including “Sasha,”– end up, despite my intentions otherwise, taking on the intimate tone and language of love letters. Every day, there is some aspect of humanity that I fall in love with (though not necessarily that I respect or admire). I am in love with Ahab, and that he has bored little holes into the deck of The Pequod so that he can stand more securely. I am in love with the Great Grenouille, and his magnificent scent of smell. And in the course of life, I stumble upon images and things and moments that I fall terribly in love with: a gaggle of teenage girls studying high school chemistry in a local library, arguing about significant figures. A painfully alert German shepherd puppy, waiting for the woman he loves to buy her coffee and come back, already. Once, my father was driving his tractor in the field when he came across a deer who refused to be frightened away. He drove back and away, again and again, and each time he saw the deer, he raised his workgloved hand and said: “Hello.” I am in love with this, whatever it is. I am deeply in love with the fact that there are deep wide tunnels dug out under Wakahachie, Texas, waiting for the particle accelerator that will never be built. (Hell, let’s be frank: I love particle accelerators, period.) In my own writing, I suppose, and certainly in “Sasha,” I want to write down and preserve those parts of the earth that I have found extraordinary– either in possibility or in life – and create that sense of wonder and obsession for others.
An attempt at explanation: Perhaps all fiction is just that: the recounting of moments in which we fall, minutely or hugely, in love with our characters. And through our characters, ourselves, and what daily surrounds us.
Zana Previti is earning her MFA at the University of California, Irvine, where she is at work on her first novel. Her work has been featured most recently in Ghost Ocean Magazine and The Los Angeles Review, and is forthcoming from The New England Review. Find stories online in Ghost Ocean Magazine, Issue 7:  and The Coachella Review, Spring 2011.

1 comment:

CKT said...

Well, isn't this the way it ought to happen? Someone arises at two, takes a sleeping pill, regrets it, a cup of coffee, comes upon shared affinities (Marquez, for one) and gets to live it, not the sublime in the ordinary, but the sublime in the sublime. How wonderful it is that we get to create one another in this fine, soft land of isolation and belonging, the sun soon to come up.