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Christopher Linforth’s story “Fence” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 4, out now.
How long have you been writing?
Of course, since I was a kid I read—sci-fi, detective fiction, the classics—and wouldn’t stop. Still haven’t. But then came the hard part: writing my own stories. I’ve talked (pontificated, really) about doing it for a longer period than I’ve actually sat down and committed myself to the art. So perhaps the past five or six years I’ve been a writer. My first year of graduate school I had a story accepted into the Denver Quarterly, and that spurred me on, partly through the shock of having anything published and also the thought that people were out there reading my stuff. Sometimes my stories are rather bleak. In college, behind my back, they were christened: “Linforthian.” These days I see that as a complement.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
For several years, I had the good fortune to live in Manhattan, Kansas. “The Little Apple,” as it’s called (also Manhappenin’), is a strange mix of liberals, conservatives, college kids, post-college hipsters, hardworking locals, returning soldiers, and a burgeoning art and music scene. Tallgrass prairie, manmade lakes, and the curvaceous Flint Hills surround it all. I would really like to move back.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
Once I left the Midwest and moved to Virginia Tech for my M.F.A., I had a vantage point upon which to assess that very question. Being physically separated from Kansas helped me write about the landscape, the people, and the atmosphere I remember. Moreover, the professors back there emphasized craft and pushing our work as far as possible. They also widened my purview to folks such as Charles Baxter, Antonya Nelson, Stuart Dybek, and Bonnie Jo Campbell.
Why do you believe there has never really been a regionalist push for Midwestern writing in the past like there has with the South or even the West Coast?
The Midwest always gets a bad rap—often by people who have never lived there. For me, in response to this question and others like it, I often like to cogitate on this quote from Patricia Hampl’s memoir The Florist’s Daughter: “The Midwest. The flyover, where even the towns have fled to the margins, groceries warehoused in Wal-Marts hugging the freeways, the red barns of family farms sagging, dismantled and sold as ‘distressed’ wood for McMansion kitchens, the feedlots of agribusiness crouched low to the prairie ground. Of all the American regions, the Midwest remains the most imaginary, ahistorical but fiercely emblematic. It’s Nowheresville. But it’s also the Heartland. That weight again: the innocent middle. Though it isn’t innocent. It’s where the American imagination has decided to archive innocence.”
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
So far I haven’t gone the Facebook or Twitter route, but I do have a blog.
I’m split between Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy.
I love breakfast food. So I’m going with scrambled eggs, wheat toast with butter and jam, fried potatoes, tomatoes, and a mug of steaming coffee.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
Gertrude Stein in her Paris salon.
Where can we find more information about you?
I have a couple of stories forthcoming in The MacGuffin and the Chicago Quarterly Review, and I maintain a blog at christopherlinforth.wordpress.com.